Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chinese eye Fiji properties

China’s rich looking to purchase properties away from home have Fiji in their sights, according to Air Pacific’s representative in Asia.

“There are a lot of queries coming right now regarding property purchases in Fiji,” said Hong Kong-based Watson Seeto when asked about the opportunities for Fiji in mainland China especially with the Fiji government forging closer ties in the Orient.

“Land prices in Hong Kong are very high. So it’s really the people coming from China, they basically are asking about investment properties or holiday homes in Fiji.”

“So once I get enough queries and put together a data base I will be going to the Fiji Trade and Investment Board or the real estate agents in Fiji to try and generate that market.”

According to Seeto, there are currently tour packages for investors going into New Zealand and Australia to buy homes, which Fiji could tap into.

“They come in small groups of 10 to 15, but they have basically a couple of million dollars to spend per person,” he said.

“The Chinese market is the market we have not fully tapped. It’s the biggest market we know is going to be available to Fiji.”

China's super-rich usually purchase homes and luxury brand items in Hong Kong, one of the main financial centers of the Far East.

According to one real estate report, property prices in Hong Kong are booming in part because of mainland cash pouring into the city.

But these days, the prices are what is taking people's breath away and a modest apartment now can go for $30 million, reports CNN.

An apartment in Hong Kong, a 6,200-square-foot duplex, recently sold for a record $57 million.

The Expat Forum reports that this year, Hong Kong returned to its status as having one of the most expensive real estate sectors in the world, both for the commercial and residential real estate.

Prices are sky high due to the fact that there is very little property on the open market, and what is there will be squeezed up to crazy prices, it said.

Some properties within the centre of the business sector are going for something in the region of $4,000 a square foot, a massive increase on 10 years ago, it said.

Seeto is optimistic that given Air Pacific’s twice weekly direct flights between Nadi and Hong Kong, Fiji is in an ideal position to take advantage of China’s economic power.

“We’re the only guys that can land you in the South Pacific,” he said.

“When we first did our study we thought it was 60 per cent from UK and Europe on the Hong Kong flight, but that’s reversed in the last three months. It’s 60 per cent tourists from China to Fiji, the UK/Europe number has dropped.”

“Our partnership with Cathay Pacific also gives us the global reach – there are many opportunities there. We have a code-share in only one sector, which is the Nadi-Hong Kong route. We are talking to Hong Kong, hoping to open opportunities in other routes.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tailevu Province to fund Prisoner Rehabilitation

Chiefs from Tailevu Province have promised to put money into helping their imprisoned sons and daughters start a new life in their villages upon their release.

The ‘vanua’ of Tailevu led by its Provincial Council Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi visited the inmates of the Nasinu Reformative Centre, the Naboro Correctional Centre and the Suva Prison at the Naboro Correctional Academy Mess on Friday.

It was the first ever such visit by the Province of Tailevu.

Chairman Serulagilagi likened the visit to the biblical story of the Good Shepherd going back to look for a single lost sheep.

Serulagilagi told the inmates that from next year onwards the council will be setting aside funds for their rehabilitation.

“The council has decided that next year we will set aside funds to rehabilitate and set you up in the village,” Serulagilagi is quoted by State media.

“Come back to the village. Once you are there, everything will work out, and the vanua will help you.”

Serulagilagi said the committee tasked to work on the rehabilitation of ex-offenders will work closely with the prison authority.

Serulagilagi said that the vanua is ready to give its sons and daughters a second chance, but he cautioned them that there will be no third chance.

Meanwhile, Taito Raiwaqa, who calls himself a “veteran prisoner”, told the delegates from Tailevu that he wants to start a new life upon his release in 2015.

“This the first time for my high chiefs to come and visit us inmates,” he said.

“This visit is truly inspirational, it motivates people like me to rethink about the kind of life we are leading.

“I want to get married, own my own home and have a car.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Call of the island life - Maneesha Karan

Saturday, December 12, 2009

EIGHTY-six year old Ana Waqanitoga cannot live without her island home -Levuka on Ovalau.

Singing and beating the lali during meke performances, Ms Waqanitoga says it's impossible for her to find the peace of home in any other place.

Two of her seven children live in Suva and she often visits them.

But she tires easily of the busy city life and longs to return to her village where she indulges in her favourite pastimes of gardening and socialising.

"This is my life and I can't think of living anywhere else. I've lived here all my life - the neighbours are my family," she said.

"I have a flower garden and plant a little cassava and dalo. I weave mats which I use for traditional purposes and visit friends and families in the village.

"It is safe because everyone knows me and they help me when I'm in need."

Ms Waqanitoga and her family survived on farm produce when the children were growing up.

She remembers packing boiled cassava for her children's school lunch.

"It was a hard time for us because my husband had no fixed job," Ms Waqanitoga said.

"Some money came in from the sale of cassava and dalo but there wasn't enough to send the children in a bus or carrier, so they had to walk four kilometers to attend Marist Convent School."

Ms Waqanitoga's husband died 35 years ago. She now lives by herself in her little home, although she never lacks help with her children and grandchildren assisting her daily and providing her with groceries.

Ms Waqanitoga keeps busy in the cassava patch. It keeps her healthy and strong although she's often disturbed by the attitude of the younger generation.

"The young people do not respect the elders as they did in our time," she said.

"Those were good times when everybody loved each other but now people talk back to their elders and fight among themselves."

She says children should practise the virtues of life to strive to become successful and respected

Chief gives up work for church - Saturday, December 12, 2009

RATU Tevita Makutu gave up his working career five years ago to become the evangelical leader for the Nadroga division of the Methodist Church.

"I heeded a call from God and my life and the lives of my wife and six children have been blessed since," Ratu Tevita said while helping at the Methodist Church Evangelism Renewal Seminar in Cuvu yesterday.

Ratu Tevita has been a volunteer evangelist for the past 17 years and said he made the decision to do so after observing what his children and the youth in his province were going through.

"A lot of the youth were born in and around 1987 and have been brought up in turbulent times," Ratu Tevita said.

"This is reflected in their attitudes and acts of rebellion at home and in the community.

"I believe that this revival will go a long way in changing their mindset, spirit and outlook on life."

The evangelist also said that there had been a marked increase in youth numbers attending church.

Ratu Tevita was also overwhelmed at the numbers of young people attending the seminar.

"There is a huge revival in the Methodist Church in Fiji today," he said.

"More and more people are beginning to realise that in these economically trying times only God is the answer to every situation, circumstance and problem," Ratu Tevita add

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bua Villagers Ban Alcohol

Serafina Silaitoga - Saturday, December 05, 2009

A DISTRICT in Bua has banned the drinking of alcohol to provide a safer environment for women and children.

The villagers of Naiviqiri, Nasau and Navaka in the district of Navakasiga are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages anywhere in the district.

Villagers who do consume alcohol outside the district are not allowed to re-enter until they are sober.

Naiviqiri village headman Etuate Roqica said the alcohol ban, piloted a few months ago, was aimed at providing a safe surrounding for all women and children in the area.

He said apart from that, chiefs and village headmen of the three villages wanted to prevent unnecessary trouble.

Mr Roqica said villagers who wanted to drink alcohol could do so outside the district boundary, which begins at Lekutu government station, about 45 minutes drive from Nabouwalu.

He said the action was prompted after reports of stabbing and women and children being threatened as a result of alcohol abuse.

Mr Roqica said it was the duty of heads of families and communities to make sure that women and children were well protected.

Villagers from the district usually depend on the sea, yaqona and dalo for income.

Well known rugby union player Rupeni Caucau hails from Nasau Village.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Native lease to be priced at market rates

Fiji's native land leases are going to be priced at market rates as part of the government’s ambitious land reform plans.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said the land reform initiative will be spearheaded by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and should see the unlocking of much of Fiji’s unused land.

“Land reform essentially means making land available for productive use and longer tenure. Under the Agricultural Landlord and Tennant’s Act, you have agricultural land tenure for a very short lease period. The idea is to make that available for a longer period where the landowners themselves actually benefit and would-be investors are able to access that land, pay market rates and get into agriculture,” Sayed-Khaiyum.

Previous governments have tried unsuccessfully to bring about land reforms in Fiji, with their failure being blamed on politics.

One of the main issues that had been thrashed about in the past was the land rental under ALTA, which is said to be among the lowest in the world at six percent of the land’s Unimproved Capital Value.

The ruling Bainimarama government however has put land reform down in its 10-point plan, a schedule of what it wants to achieve by 2020.

Sayed-Khaiyum said consultations with various stakeholders, including native landowners, have already begun.

The communally-owned native land makes up some 80 percent of Fiji’s available land but most of that remains largely unused.