Tuesday, March 04, 2008

People's Charter A Waste of Money

People's Charter is a futile exercise: Academic - www.fijitimes.com

ASHWINI PRASAD
Monday, March 03, 2008

AN academic has said that the proposed People's Charter is a futile exercise because it has not been able to attract broad-based support.

Doctor Brij Lal said the Charter lacked support from the sections of the community which have been at the receiving end of the December 2006 coup.

"Without their support and participation, the project will come to naught," said Dr Lal.

"The Charter's intention seems to be prescriptive, laying down the overarching parameters and framework of governance for the country when it should be the business of the ordinary citizens conducted through a democratic election.

"Anything else is an expensive sideshow," he said.

Dr Lal's spoke his mind in the wake of comments by Krishna Datt, a former minister in the Qarase-led multi-party Cabinet.

Mr Datt said the work done by the members of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji on the People's Charter was nothing new.

Dr Lal said the Charter's initiative was trying to re-invent the wheel.

He said chapter two of the Constitution already laid down the broad principles and values which should underpin the governance of the country, the basis on which State resources ought to be allocated.

Dr Lal said it was there in black and white although perhaps its spirit had not been given the recognition and respect it deserved.

"You may have the noblest of principles enshrined in a constitution but unless there is a willingness on the part of our leaders to observe the spirit as well as the letter of the law, nothing will succeed."

He said there would be no progress in Fiji unless all the major leaders of the communities were prepared to engage in a genuine dialogue directly with each other rather than through some nebulous charter process.

"People are talking about a referendum but that is easier said than done.

"Referendums are not a normal part of the Westminster tradition.

"And then, there is the question of the threshold.

"What will it be 75 per cent?

"Given the opposition to the charter, the threshold will never be met.

"A failed referendum is worse than no referendum at all.

"At least, then, the door is left ajar.

"A failed referendum will close the door for good."

Attempts to contact the director of the Technical And Support Secretariat for the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress, John Samy were unsuccessful yesterday. Attempts to contact the permanent secretary in the Prime Ministers Office, Parmesh Chand, were to no avail.

Calls made to Mr Chand's cell phone remained unanswered yesterday afternoon.

Mr Samy had earlier said that about $2.4million in costs was associated with the work to be done by the secretariat.

He had said that non-government members of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji would receive a daily allowance of $100 per person for every sitting of the council.

The interim Cabinet had approved the request that the interim Government allocate $2.4million for the purpose, Mr Samy had said.

The figure is inclusive of the $402,000 announced in the 2008 Budget and also the cost of salaries and related expenses of the deployed public servants.

The proposed Charter, meanwhile, has not drawn the expected response from the public and various sectors in the country.

The ousted Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party, of whom former prime minister Laisenia Qarase was the leader, does not support the charter. Some non-governmental organisations and provinces also do not support the charter.


Too early to comment on what happens if people reject parts of Charter says PM

Monday, March 03, 2008

Update: 10.59am Fiji's interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the People's Charter would be taken through a referendum before any policy was implemented.

Speaking to Fijilive this morning, Commodore Bainimarama said it was important that peoples opinions were sought on this crucial matter.

"We have people there in the National Council for Building a Better Fiji finding ways and means to look at the problems we are faced with.

"They are looking for ways to come up with a solution to this problem."

When asked what would happen if people agreed to only some parts of the charter, Commodore Bainimarama said this was the reason why a referendum must be held.

"Its too early to comment on the issue," he said.

Commodore Bainimarama co-chairs the NCBBF with head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Petero Mataca.

Divided into three task teams, the NCBBF was tasked with formulating a Charter to provide policy direction for the interim Government in the absence of Parliament.

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