If you live in Fiji and your normal abode is somewhere off the mainland then the excitement of a forthcoming trip to Suva can almost put one in a state of orgasmic bliss. Glorious days of shopping and sightseeing, with good food and a wide-ranging choice of treats in every department to entice and drain the wallet of the unsuspecting. Having been there on previous occasions tho, the natural high of expectancy is usually anti-climactic wishful thinking. On arrival, once you hire the first taxi or minibus, any thoughts of a relaxed and laid back citybreak fade within about 6 minutes as you realise your remaining life expectancy has dropped to approximately 7 minutes. Island folk used to a slightly slower pace of life dump themselves into towns where the drivers are twice as stupid and drive three times faster because the roads are four times better, and subsequently fear for their lives. It’s uncomfortable, and if death-by-taxi doesn’t get you then culture shock is the backup assassin waiting in the wings.
So why do we go ?
Well, if you want to get anything of any importance done as far as business or administration is concerned, then Suva is the place to do it. Doing these things from a remote location is nigh on impossible – you may as well skip everything and just write your Last Will And Testament, since that will probably come into play before anything else you might be working on. To get things done you need to have your face in someone else’s face, and then wait. And wait. And wait. Until they do it. Do not leave the building. Do not come back next week. You must only leave when what you came to get done is actually done. And stamped. And photocopied. And certified as original at least 4 times by God or a close personal assistant. Nothing else will do, since the next port of call will probably require all of these certified documents, plus the ones you came with, and possibly more. And so it goes, it’s the way things are – but it is getting better, and easier, and less time consuming than it used to be. This is partly due to personally being more aware of what is required (knowing the ropes as it were) and many of the offices and supporting systems are now much better organised and helpful than they used to be. As a result, there may actually be a valid reason to look forward to the next trip to the mainland.
On this trip though, the top “sights” on our agenda were
1. Suvavou House
– Company registration
– Supply of an original Marriage Certificate
– Commissioner of Oaths for certification of document copies
2. FNPF (Fiji National Provident Fund)
– Employee/Member details and beneficiary updates
– ID card replacement
3. FRCA (Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority)
– Issue of new Tax Identification letter for company
– Opening of new business account
5. Fiji Immigration Office
– Non-citizen work permit requirements
Exciting stuff, eh ? I have no photo’s, but I’m sure there are lots on Tripadvisor, and possibly some reviews and ratings of each of these offices.
As far as shopping was concerned then the biggest drain on the wallet was a solar upgrade – new gel batteries with additional solar panels and replacement controller, all to be shipped and installed sometime in May. FJ$22,000 will be whizzing out of the account to cover it all, which sort of put the wife’s shopping trips in the shade despite her usual best efforts.
In the end we did actually find some time to chill out, enjoy the food, do some family stuff and get some treats for the kids, so all in all we can put this one down as a success. The major bonus was we didn’t die in a taxi. Did you know that in Fiji 35% of all road traffic infringements are committed by taxi drivers ? My apologies to all London cab drivers I may have abused in the past. You are entirely forgiven.
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