THIRD quaRTeR 2007

Fund toughens up on Employers
THE Fiji National Provident Fund is resorting to tougher measures to reduce its growing Suspense Account, which currently stands in the millions. Now, employers that fail to file proper employee documentation or who omit to register their workers within one month of employment, will be prosecuted. High on the Fund’s black-list are employers that consistently neglect (what FNPF calls ‘habitual’) to comply with their state-imposed responsibilities. FNPF Manager Employers Division, Irene Singh, says the Fund has used all reasonable means to get employers in line, with little results. Ms Singh says that strategies are in place to bring employers who are at fault to task. “This year we conducted workshops with problem employers. In June we splashed out on advertisements alerting members to their statements,” Ms Singh said. “The next step we’ll take is prosecuting employers on two offences: failing to provide full FNPF keeps records of the Account for10-year periods, after which the funds are transferred into the General Reserve Account. Ms Singh says that as a result of some employers’ inaction, workers are denied their privileges as members of the FNPF. “If funds fall into the Suspense Account we cannot give interest, therefore members lose out. If employers don’t register their employees within one month of employment as required by law then employees lose out on benefits such as housing assistance or other benefits we provide.” “Recently we’ve had cases in which employees died, leaving behind inaccurate registration and their monies in the Account. This means their next of kin cannot claim Special Death Benefits because the funds are suspended,” she said. Of employers who repeatedly neglect their duties, Ms Singh states that “Government is our largest habitual employer.”

FNPF Customer Service staff, Seruwaia Tabualevu ensures that all details are in tact for a member documentation, and failing to register employees within one month. We’ll start with a few habitual employers who haven’t been cooperating.” The Suspense Account holds unidentified FNPF member funds that have not been claimed within the last 10 years. Ms Singh says that the balance currently stands at $5.5 million – about two percent of the amount targeted for collection. Member entries are transferred into the Account if there is doubt at the data entry level that it may not be the right Member.

FNPF implements Change Management
CHANGING global trends, customer needs and the general way in which organisations conduct their business have forced the Fiji National Provident Fund to review its business operations. Thus the birth of the Change Management team, who will spearhead changes for the Fund to ensure improved services to its customers. Major changes have occurred within the Fund in the last 12 months, including movements within the Fund’s Board and Executive management. The Fund’s Acting Chief Executive, Aisake Taito, says the CM unit “is now the engine room in charge of steering necessary changes and training within the Fund.” “FNPF sees change as vital to its evolving image, especially in the current climate, so that staff morale is kept high and productivity boosted, creating a more proactive staff base that is attentive to member needs,” he said. The Reserve Bank of Fiji, under its supervisory role, had also highlighted the need for the FNPF to change its internal culture and mindset. Some objectives of the Change Management unit will be to: • enforce the Fund’s vision, mission and values • encourage broad organisational and employee change (doing away with status quo) • understand the process of change • mold staff professional attitude • instill a customer service culture and mentality • promote the sense of urgency in meeting members’ needs • enhance ethical leadership • identify productivity barriers and brainstorm ways to remove them.

- IT system upgrade - Career Expo 2007 - Corporate legal division


- Managing Risks - Collection dilemna - What you need to know


- Life after 55

IT system receives boost
THE FNPF recently carried out a major equipment upgrade on its Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. This included beefing up the organisation’s operating systems, databases and applications, computer hardware and networks or communications. By hooking on to the superior versions, the aim was to speed up processing time, improve viral security, and reduce costs and technical risks. “The upgrades are in line with ongoing improvements and FNPF strategy to continuously improve customer service through efficient technology, information systems, information availability, and reduce the Fund’s level of risk,” Manager IT, Edward Roxburgh said. “The current Enterprise 3500 computer hardware is about 12 years old and will be replaced with the Sun Fire V440 hardware. The Sun Fire system will improve processing power 10 times over the current rate, bump up the network throughput, and reduce costs for parts and support.” Mr Roxburgh says availability of parts for the current systems was a “challenge and becoming a huge risk to the organisation.” He says the organisation’s current Solaris 8 Operating System was last upgraded three years ago and needed changing. “We’re replacing it with Solaris 10 which adds better debugging and security, and again, even faster processing and scalability.” The Ingres 2006 R2 replaces the current Ingres II 2.6. Apart from efficiency, it
A full upgrade of the FNPF IT system will see faster processing in member applications

saves in terms of support fees as it is based in sockets rather than number of Central Processing Units (CPUs). The reporting tools of the new Ingres are far better that the current one. Mr Roxburgh hails the Ingres upgrade because of its flexibility. It has allowed his team to retain original databases and platforms, while using other development tools at the

same time. The IT manager sees Ingres as a three-way benefit giving IT: the ability to productively use a wide range of development environments; flexibility to port all of FNPF’s applications to user-friendly interfaces and still retain original back-end data; and it protects FNPF’s investment in IT skills and knowledge.

Legal undergoes restructure
FUND Members can expect to be served better now that the organisation’s Legal Services Division has been restructured. This new direction is outlined under the Fund’s Strategic Plan for 2008. The Legal Services Division was approved by the FNPF Board in July 2006 and was further restructured in August 2007. Previously all corporate legal matters were handled by private law firms. FNPF Acting CEO, Aisake Taito, says the Division is focused on: the collection of contributions and the provision of legal services to the Fund’s members and stakeholders. Meanwhile, the Division’s objectives for 2008 include improving the collection of contributions and improving the current prosecution system under the FNPF statutes. In addition, the Division is also expected to raise further awareness on compliance issues , recruit proper and fit employees to staff necessary positions, and to deliver effective and efficient service to FNPF members. The Fund aims to improve the coordination between FNPF branches and agencies with regard to housing legal documentation. The Division is divided into two legal service sections which are, Litigation (prosecution filed under the FNPF) and Corporate Legal (handling all other corporate legal work. Weekly reviews and monitoring of housing applications will be done to ensure a zero ‘pending’ tolerance. Mr Taito says that “ideally a daily zero ‘pending’ tolerance would be the best practice.” The Legal Services Division is currently staffed by twelve individuals.

QRT officer Wainise Vuniduvu addresses Labasa College students

Fund attends Careers Expos
FNPF’s Quick Response Team (QRT) trailed after successive Careers Expos at various sites on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. According to QRT leader Peter Ryland, the membership drive was “successful.” “Students are more aware now of the benefits of the voluntary savings scheme and it shows in the number of forms we receive,” Mr Ryland said. “Students are on the stepping stone to the employment industry, and once they graduate from high school they carry through their FNPF number. The QRT target for voluntary membership each year is 5000; a bulk of that are students, while the rest are members of the public,” he added. The Expos were held at Vunimono, Tailevu North, Ba, Savusavu, and Sigatoka.

Fund to manage risks better
FOR large bodies like the FNPF, risk management forms an essential part of their corporate strategies. The risk clauses have become best-practice safety nets for management and employees to manoeuvre daily dealings, with the intention of gaining maximum performance at minimum risk. Risk management is important to the Fund to ensure that all its transactions with members and stakeholders are carried out efficiently. Overseeing the organisation’s risk strategies is the Fund’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), which all possible risks that have been identified within the organisation.” He adds that the “ERM framework is a disciplined approach aligning strategy, processes, people, technology, and knowledge, with the purpose of evaluating and managing the risks an organisation faces as it seeks to create value.” “In essence, every employee is part of the Group Risk Management framework.” Mr Taito says that the process was ongoing, evolving according to new risk situations, allowing the organisation to move.

What You Need to KNoW
Fiji Passport Holders
QuAlIFyING cONdITIONs PeRMANeNT ResIdeNT vIsA FOR A FOReIGN cOuNTRy documents required • Certified copies of the first few pages of your passport showing your unconditional permanent resident visa and identification details • Acceptance of resignation letter from your employer within the last six months • Member’s letter stating no intentions to return to reside or work in Fiji within 12 months of departure (if balance is less than $20,000); stating the above, if balance is above $20,000 and a statutory declaration is required • Itinerary confirming travel or copy of one way ticket • Certification to be conducted by a Justice of Peace, Commissioner of Oaths, or FNPF officer Processing time • Average of 3 working days Maximum withdrawal amount • FULL WITHDRAWAL

Aisake Taito states that risk management is vital falls under the Corporate Governance Division. FNPF Acting Chief Executive, Aisake Taito, says that the role of the ERM “is to manage

Collection dilemna

Contributions from members have decreased

FIJI’S political events of late 2006 have hampered the collection of contributions, the Fiji National Provident Fund has says. “From February 2007 our contributions dropped as a result of the political and economic climate. Many employers closed their businesses. It’s a challenge compared to 2006,” FNPF Manager Employers Division Irene Singh said. “We still haven’t gone back to our pre-coup average collection. The five percent cuts and the slump in the tourism industry - all these factors contributed to the drop,” Ms Singh added. The collection of contributions is the backbone of FNPF. Low collection rates mean a trickling of incoming funds into registered FNPF member accounts, and for 2007 the impact of the coup crisis prevented an overall good collection flow. But despite the economic and political downturn, there were some positive signs, although these were slight - contribution collection was $289.83 million, an increase from $267.66 million for 2006. Ms Singh attributes this to the enforcement of the necessary regulations. She says that the prosecution of non-payers was high.

“We are prosecuting a lot of employers for unpaid contributions. Our priority is to get employers who default in any given month, so there is no escaping. You default, we’ll be there!”, Mr Sigh said. “That’s our priority this year – to collect what we call our accrued contributions. About two thirds of our debtors are up for prosecution; that’s about $3.6 million accruing.” Since the 12-day rule has been abolished, employers are legally obligated to begin paying contributions for their employees from day one of employment. Under the FNPF regulations governing the compulsory savings scheme, even one hour counts as one day. Ms Singh said “We’re taking all reasonable means to collect. We encourage employers to submit their forms to us even if they can’t pay, and they shouldn’t hesitate to talk to us if they are facing difficulties.” Meanwhile, benefit payments paid to members totaled $281.93 million (inclusive of Special Death Benefits and Pension payouts) compared to $250.62 million in 2006.

Qualifying conditions Expatriate leaving Fiji upon completion of employment contract in Fiji documents required • Certified copies of the first few pages showing identification details of your passport • Contract termination letter • Work Permit - Certified copies • Your Membership card • Itinerary confirming travel Method of payment • To member Processing time • Average of 3 working days Maximum withdrawal amount • FULL WITHDRAWAL

FOR Cameron Gooder, pictured, life after the legally defined retirement age of 55 is really a continuation of his professional career as a software programmer. Retirement does not figure in Mr Gooder’s vocabulary, and if you looked up the word ‘work’ in any dictionary, you are likely to see ‘Cameron Gooder’ as its definition. Mr Gooder is a New Zealander. He holds a sky blue passport, making him a Fijian ctizen who has been contributing as a compulsory member since Fiji was a British colony in 1970 – four years after the national savings scheme was established in 1966. Seven years after he landed in Fiji, he got himself his Fiji papers. So 55 eventually came around many years after he started his first computing company in Fiji called IDL or International Data Limited. “I still enjoy working. I’d go crazy sitting at home doing nothing. Fifty-five came around and it didn’t seem any different than the previous day,” Mr Gooder said. Retirement didn’t appeal to Mr Gooder. He doesn’t look his age and this is attributed involvement in golf, and now, umpiring badminton. He ploughs on in front of his desktop computer at 59 Brewster St, Toorak, writing programmes under the banner of his new company started January 2006 called camGooder & Associates (computers, service, and software). “One thing that my pension has allowed me to do is survive. It means I’ve had a


after fifty-five
business clients. If Mr Gooder hadn’t come in the 1970s when software programming know-how was zilch in Fiji, history may have taken some other unknown path. Mr Gooder, through IDL, is the man who has pioneered much of commercial Fiji’s programming systems. He wrote the programmes for most of the major companies (except FNPF and the Native Land Trust Board) in Fiji - Emperor Gold Mines, Burns Philip, Housing Authority, Fiji Development Bank, Carpenters, Fiji Airways, to name a few. He wrote the programme for the prescription script that you get from the pharmacy. He also set up the first electricity billing for Suva City Council, before that function went to the Fiji Electricity Authority; computerised the first water rates in Suva; wrote software for Grants Waterhouse betting shops in Fiji, and even the electronic generation of golf handicaps. “After 30-odd years I still have a lot of software in my head and it’s worth a lot of money, programmes and systems. Commercial companies need working systems. A lot of these modern systems don’t work well; you can get most off the internet and if something goes wrong who’s going to fix it? On the other hand, my customers can ring me up 24-hours a day.” Does Mr Gooder still want to retire tomorrow? “No! You don’t have to take your retirement at 55, but when you finally do retire, you have your savings to fall back on.”

“But the Fiji Provident Fund guaranteed income and I don’t follows you around. You don’t have to rely on the company’s lose anything by moving. It’s salary.” marvellous to contribute to the “I know you’re supposed to savings scheme no matter what be saving your pension for your retirement,” he says with a laugh, you’re doing or where you’re going.” but I took mine out six years “Especially ago when I reached 55.” “More people should join the for low income “When I provident fund in Fiji. was in New They don’t realise how much earners. It’s not easy to Zealand, in it will benefit them until contribute those days, if you’re not people were it’s too late” working aghast if you full-time, but if you contribute a didn’t join the company provident little all throughout your working fund. The only good you’d get out life, you’ll have something.” of the company savings scheme He has invested mostly in his is if you stayed with the company business and technical knowuntil you retired. If you moved how, and travels a lot abroad to another job, you’d lose your and within Fiji, networking with funds.”

If you have any questions or wish to contribute to this newsletter, feel free to contact Risiate Biudole on tel: 3307 811, or e-mail: or write to: Risiate Biudole, Public Relations, Fiji National Provident Fund, Private Mail Bag, Suva.