Following an extensive recruitment process facilitated by KPMG Fiji, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr Vishnu Mohan, has, with the support of the Prime Minister, announced the following 13 appointments.

Ms Salaseini Daunabuna has been appointed Permanent Secretary Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management with effect from 21 November 2022. Ms Daunabuna served in the Civil Service for 13 years and as Permanent Secretary for three years before leaving overseas for tertiary studies in December 2018. She holds a Master of Governance and Public Policy, a Professional Diploma in Legislative Drafting, admission as a Barrister and Solicitor in the Fiji Bar, a Professional Diploma in Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Laws. Ms Daunabuna replaces Mr David Kolitagane who has since been appointed Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia.

Ms Mere Siqila-Lakeba has been appointed Permanent Secretary Waterways and Environment with effect from 15 December 2022. Mere has a Master of Science in Aquaculture Science and Technology and a Bachelor of Science from the University of the South Pacific double majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Mere was previously Director, Fisheries in the Ministry where she spent 17 years and is currently Country Director, Conservation International, Fiji. Ms Lakeba replaces Joshua Wycliffe who has since vacated his post due to unavoidable family circumstances in his home country of India.

Mr Atish Kumar currently Director, Labour Standard Services, has been appointed Permanent Secretary Employment Productivity and Industrial Relations with effect from 1 January 2023. Mr Kumar is a career civil servant and has been in the Ministry since 2000 holding various positions before reaching his current position in 2018. He is very well qualified in the area of industrial relations and has a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a double major in Human Resource Management, Employment Relations and Public Administration. He also has a Masters in Commerce from the University of the South Pacific. Mr Kumar replaces Mr Osea Cawaru who is retiring from the Civil Service upon the expiry of his current contract.

Mr Ashwin Raj, the former Director, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, has been appointed Permanent Secretary Women Children and Poverty Alleviation with effect from 12 December 2022. Mr Raj has significant experience as a practitioner in the field of governance, rule of law and human rights. He brings proven ability in building strong, autonomous and resilient institutions through strategic vision, direction and leadership. He has a Master of Arts in Political Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics. Mr Raj replaces Ms Jennifer Poole who has since resigned to pursue other interests. Mr Raj has stepped down from his position as Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as of yesterday.

Ms Seema Sharma has been appointed Permanent Secretary Local Government with effect from 15 December 2022. Ms Sharma has been in the Civil Service for the past 22 years serving in many capacities before becoming Director, Trade in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, a position she has held for the past ten years. Ms Sharma has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Management from the University of The South Pacific. Ms Sharma will take over from Mr Shaheen Ali who has been acting in this capacity since 19 February 2021 in addition to his substantive portfolio of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport.

The PSC has also confirmed the reappointment of the following Permanent Secretaries for a further period of three years upon the expiry of their current contracts.

Yogesh Karan, Office of the Prime Minister, Sugar Industry, Immigration and Foreign Affairs
Susan Kiran, Ministry of Civil Service
Shaheen Ali, Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism & Transport
Sanjeeva Perera, Ministry of Housing and Community Development
Taitusi Vakadravuyaca, Ministry of Infrastructure and Meteorological Services
Raijeli Taga, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources
Manasa Lesuma, Ministry of Defence, National Security and Policing
Garisau Penesio Nonu Baleinabuli (Pene), Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries

On behalf of the Public Service Commission, Mr Mohan welcomes the new appointees, congratulates those who are being reappointed, and extends his sincere thanks to former PSs Wycliffe, Cawaru, Kolitagane and Poole for their valuable contribution to the Fijian Civil Service during their respective tenures.

Mr Mohan added that, with these latest appointment announcements, all Permanent Secretaries serving in Fiji would be Fijian nationals. He said that was a credit to the growing pool of talent in Fiji and the progress of the Civil Service in attracting top candidates. Including Ms Tupou’tuah, who is in an acting capacity as Permanent Secretary for Communications, there will also now be seven women serving as PSs in the Fijian Civil Service following the effective dates of these appointments – the highest number in history. “We still have a way to go towards achieving gender parity, but this is welcome progress nevertheless,” said Mr Mohan.