The Fiji Times »2021 – The year that was: December



As the country rejoiced in the revival of tourism with swarms of visitors arriving on our shores, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr James Fong, announced the arrival of Omicron.

The month also ended with the announcement that Fiji was entering its third wave with 476 new cases for the seven days leading up to December 28. However, news of the Christmas Day death of famous scholar, award-winning author and respected historian Professor Brij Vilash Lal dominated the header lines.

The man from Labasa was exiled in 2009 by the Bainimarama government and has remained in Australia for the past 12 years because the FijiFirst government did not allow him to return.

Defense Minister Timoci Natuva told parliament in 2015 that Professor Lal was banned from returning indefinitely to Fiji because it was “prejudicial to peace, to defense, to public safety, to order. public and the security of the Fijian government ”.

DECEMBER 1  NATIONAL Federation Party leader Prof. Biman Prasad said the biggest test for Fiji’s democracy will come when there is a change of government.

DECEMBER 2 THE more than 75,000 tourists booked to visit the country in the next two months could bring in around $ 255 million, said Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill.

DECEMBER 3  ATTORNEY GENERAL Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum called “extremely stupid” calls by National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad to remove the 20 cents per liter fuel tax as it would leave a hole of $ 56 million in state revenue.

DECEMBER 4 MORE than 58,700 members of the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) have zero balances in their accounts, according to the 2021 FNPF Annual Report.

DECEMBER 6  FIJI Labor Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said Fiji could be forced to do foreign countries a favor if they are not vigilant about borrowing.

DECEMBER 7 EDUCATION The permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr Anjeela Jokhan, says the ministry is not saying it will get rid of all unqualified teachers, “we are just urging them to keep developing their professional skills”.

DECEMBER 8  Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr James Fong, announces the first two cases of Omicron in Fiji and says sanitary measures and border surveillance should be strengthened and maintained.

DECEMBER 9 ATTORNEY GENERAL Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum exempts Energy Fiji Ltd from being audited by the Auditor General under the 2021 Audit (Exemption) Rules issued last week.

DECEMBER 10 FIJI Meteorological Service (FMS) Acting Director Terry Atalifo said Fijians should expect one or two severe tropical cyclones this season.

DECEMBER 11 The Economy Ministry made payments worth $ 2 million for the new prime minister’s office, but waived the bidding process, the auditor general says in the report. Remaining audit of 2019 on the sectors of general administration, social services, economic services and infrastructure services tabled in Parliament.

DECEMBER 12  ATTORNEY GENERAL Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said laws would be amended to decriminalize planting industrial hemp and the government would issue licenses to farmers who would engage in growing industrial hemp in Fiji, during a speech during the 23rd GA conference.

DECEMBER 13  A waiver and write-off of $ 121.8 million by the Fijian Tax and Customs Service (FRCS) in 2018 violated the Fijian Constitution, says the 2019-2020 audit report on statutory authorities, independent bodies and committees that has been tabled in Parliament.

DECEMBER 14 PRELIMINARY evidence indicates that the COVID-19 Omicron variant does not make people sicker than Delta and other strains, Department of Health Permanent Secretary Dr James Fong said. Education Minister Premila Kumar said nine cases of COVID-19 were recorded among students when classes resumed for grades 12 and 13.

DECEMBER 16 The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) in its 2021 annual report states that it holds $ 3.5 billion in government bonds and that investing in government bonds has provided guaranteed returns and was “Less risky than other assets”.

DECEMBER 17 PEOPLE living in the Lami-Nausori corridor should expect water disruptions to continue until 2022, said Seru Soderberg, operations director of the Water Authority of Fiji.

DECEMBER 18 SITIVENI Rabuka says he is the leader of the People’s Alliance party when asked if he was willing to cede the role of party leader to another member, given his history as as leader of the coup.

DECEMBER 19 HEALTH Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete calls for boiling all drinking water to prevent the spread of the disease after residents of Delainavesi, Valenicina and Lami reported an increase in cases of diarrhea.

DECEMBER 20 An increase in community violence, killings and anti-social behavior is often seen in restrictive environments where the spaces for human rights, democracy and the rule of law are shrinking, said human rights activist Shamima Ali – in relation to the increase in the number of body finds and cases of missing persons.

DECEMBER 21 Fiji Revenue and Customs Service sends 89 workers home with compulsory and voluntary layoffs.

DECEMBER 22 MUNRO Leys confirms that Attorney General Sharvada Sharma’s case against the government will be dismissed in the Suva High Court on January 6.

DECEMBER 23 Election Supervisor Mohammed Saneem refutes claims by three political parties that a member of the electoral commission received $ 500 in sitting allowances for days when no commission meeting was scheduled.

DECEMBER 24  NATIONAL Federation Party Vice President Lenora Qereqeretabua calls on Attorney General and Communications Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to answer for the $ 67 million allocated to the Welsh digital news platform at over the past seven budgets.

DECEMBER 25 ENGLISH The 7s sensation Ben Gollings is the new coach of the 7s men of Fiji Airways.

DECEMBER 27 EXILED for 12 years, Professor Brij Vilash Lal dies on Christmas Day at his home in Brisbane, Australia.

DECEMBER 29  NATIONAL Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said the government should always prioritize lives above the economy over how it has handled the new wave of cases COVID-19 after the borders open.

DECEMBER 30  TOURISM Fiji CEO Brent Hill said tourism bookings remained strong despite recent surge in COVID-19 cases, he said Fiji made $ 200 million in December and $ 200 additional expected in January 2022.

DECEMBER 31  WE are at the start of the third wave of COVID-19, says Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr James Fong, as he announces 476 new cases and one death, bringing the death toll to 698 .


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