13 Nov 2002

Fiji's chiefs meet to discuss indigenous issues

5:09 pm on 13 November 2002

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs began a three day meeting behind closed doors at the army camp in Suva today, to discuss matters concerning indigenous Fijians.

Principal among these is reform of the Fijian Administration which is a separate arm of the government for indigenous Fijians only.

The administration has not changed much since it was set up in 1944 and has been described as using outdated management systems influenced largely by tradition with concepts of good goverance absent.

The government has rejected a review report it commissioned from Price Waterhouse-Coopers which suggested radical changes.

Instead, the chiefs will consider other recommendations made by a team from the Cabinet and the Fijian Affairs Board.

The chiefs will also discuss the performance of the Fijian Trust Fund set up with a government grant of nearly 10-million US dollars earlier this year.

Income from the fund is aimed at making the Great Council of Chiefs financially independent of the Government.

The chiefs will also discuss the building of a new secretariat headquarters which they will invite Queen Elizabeth to open.

The chair of the chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says this is because of the chiefs traditional ties with the British monarchy since they gave control over Fiji to Queen Victoria in 1874.

Queen Elizabeth has not been queen of Fiji since Sitiveni Rabuka declared the country a republic after his second military coup in 1987.