Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. The Ministry of Finance faced many challenges in 2009, one of which was to safeguard government finances amidst the global financial and economic crisis.
31 Dec 2009 12:00

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. The Ministry of Finance faced many challenges in 2009, one of which was to safeguard government finances amidst the global financial and economic crisis. This was successfully done through imposition of stringent expenditure policy measures. Government funds were applied to the most needy and distributed to the priority sectors.
Government also had an opportunity to discuss Economic Reform Program with the International Monetary Fund delegates in November. This was the biggest delegation that ever visited Fiji as part of its IMF Article IV visit. Accompanying the IMF officials were the World Bank and ADB officials which led to constructive discussions on the measures that the Government took during this challenging time to keep up within the budgeted fiscal deficit for 2009. The IMF delegation named certain crucial sectors which are in much need of reforms, particularly reforms to fiscal and monetary management. The Ministry of Finance will further work with the IMF/World Bank and other multilateral agencies to look at areas where assistance and technical advice could be sought for a structured and effective reform program.
After extensive consultations with the ministries and departments and business forums with the private sector, the 2010 Budget was formed with the theme of “Strengthening the Foundations of Economic Growth and Prosperity”. It is pleasing to note that this Budget has been very positively received by the private sector and the general public since it offers solutions for economic growth which will be realized through practical implementation by this Government.
The Ministry of Finance will lead the implementation of the specific targets set out under the Ten Point Economic Plan to be achieved by 2020. These targets will be supplemented by prudent management of fiscal and monetary policies. The 2020 targets are:
i) GDP to be increased two-fold;
ii) Balance of Payments current account deficit to be eliminated;
iii) Poverty to be reduced from current levels to less than 5 percent of population;
iv) Visitor arrivals to increase to 6 million;
v) Financial sector to be liberalized with a view of eliminating exchange controls;
vi) Fiji to grow its Communications Services sector business by 100 percent;
vii) Fiji to achieve self sufficiency in rice, meat and liquid milk;
viii) Fiji to convert up to 90 percent of all electricity generation from fossil to renewable sources;
ix) Fiji to convert up to 80 percent of all arable land into productive use; and
x) Fiji to reduce unemployment rate to less then 3 per cent.

Additionally, the Ministry will undertake necessary steps through its financial management system to enhance the delivery of services. A review of the existing Accounting; FMIS system will be undertaken to streamline the financial processes in Government. To uphold transparency and accountability on the usage of Government funds, the Financial Control, Internal Audit & Compliance team will be strengthened. Another core priority is the improvement of the Government payroll system as a tool to monitor and control spending in salaries and wages.
The Ministry will also progress work with technical agencies to review the existing cash accounting system in Government and in 2010, will implement cash accounting standards which will be in line with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards across all ministries and departments.
The Fiji Procurement Office has been successfully established, the Ministry will ensure that it is fully functional in 2010 to take care of the procurement of goods and services in Government. This will result in a single government Tender Board System. In addition to this, the Government Printing Department will be restructured.
The Information, Technology and Computing Services (ITC) Department will continue to progress with the implementation of the E-Government project to enhance overall service delivery to the public. Cabinet has approved significant funding for this project.
The Ministry of Finance has also taken a new responsibility to manage the repairs and maintenance of existing road works across Government, including Municipal Councils. The newly created Central Coordinating Agency for Roads under the Ministry will be responsible for this task, particularly in outsourcing road works to the private sector.

Fiji Sun Instagram