Good news from Fiji.
FIRCA, Fiji’s Inland Revenue, have cleared the disputed VAT assessment against Tribewanted Fiji and have lifted the Departure Prohibition Orders on Ulai Baya and myself.
The result was due to a fifteen-month-long push on all levels of Fijian government. We recently presented our case in writing (now a large file – to much paper here) to both the PMs and the Minister for Finance’s office. Tui Mali and Tevita even took a tabua to chiefly relatives to try and make a difference – maybe this was the action that really helped. A meeting arranged by our good friend at Oceanic, Jonathan Segal (the man who brought internet access via Vodafone to Vorovoro), finally led to the assessment being withdrawn.
A team from FIRCA re-visited Vorovoro this week and were welcomed by the tribe in the beautifully decorated Great Bure with a traditional Vorovoro sevusevu and meke. I arrived late back from Suva to meet with them by candlelight on the beach to explain (again) the model of Vorovoro.
There seemed to be real surprise that people come here and stay without air-conditioning and a bar not only for a week, but in some cases for months. We just told them that “traditional Fijian living is a good way to live and we come here to learn.”
Our Fijian accounts have been filed demonstrating that we have paid our VAT on the full fees of all 600+ visiting members to date and have invested significantly into the island’s development and local economy. We are not asking for any concessions for our community work or publicity we’ve generated.
We await their final decision but I am more confident now that it will be the right one both legally and for the future of Tribewanted: Vorovoro.
Meanwhile, on Vorovoro we are busy planning year three projects as well our meke for upcoming events. We will be sharing the plans shortly online to discuss. I am in grog-matt talks with Tui Mali about the future of Vorovoro which I will update you with as they progress.
Island life is extremely happy – progress on showers, other projects and cultural living has been excellent this month and its great to see more families visiting Vorovoro.
Looking forward to seeing some of you here soon for the third year of our island adventure.
Talo na yaqona!