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Building Solid Foundations And Resilience For The Economy

  Asian Development Bank has commit­ted US$593 million (FJ$1.2bn) of assistance to Fiji since it joined the bank in 1970. In a statement released by ADB, it said since 2014,
14 Jan 2019 14:14
Building Solid Foundations And Resilience For The Economy
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao with his team met with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on January 11, 2019, to discuss ways ADB can expand and strengthen its partnership with Fiji. Photo: DEPTFO News

 

Asian Development Bank has commit­ted US$593 million (FJ$1.2bn) of assistance to Fiji since it joined the bank in 1970.

In a statement released by ADB, it said since 2014, it has helped the government mobilise large financing packages for investments, including concessional funds from development partners such as the Green Climate Fund.

“Ongoing ADB projects include the US$100m (FJ$212m) Transport In­frastructure Investment Sector Project, the US$42m (FJ$89m) Fiji Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Investment Programme, the US$15m (FJ$31m) Sustained Pri­vate Sector-Led Growth Re­form Programme, and the US$50 million Emergency Assistance for Recovery from Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The Sustained Private Sector-Led Growth Reform Programme is helping the government rebalance the economy from its present focus on public investment towards greater private in­vestment and private sec­tor participation.

“The programme sup­ports improvements in public financial manage­ment; the policy, legal, and institutional framework for state-owned enterprises and public-private partner­ships; and the business and investment climate.

“The government and ADB are now preparing a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) to guide joint efforts in 2019-2023,” the statement said.

“The CPS will support the government’s National De­velopment Plan and is ex­pected to prioritise actions to promote private sector investment and growth, broaden access to qual­ity social services and eco­nomic opportunities, and build resilience and reduce economic volatility, includ­ing through investments in climate change and disas­ter-resilient infrastructure assets.”

ADB expects to invest approximately US$280m (FJ$594m) in Fiji in 2019-2020.

Major planned projects

Major planned projects include a loan to expand sewerage infrastructure in Suva and policy-based loans to improve the busi­ness environment and public sector management. ADB has already started preparation of a Nadi Riv­er flood protection project, which is expected to be cofinanced with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA.

The project will protect Nadi and surrounding areas—a vital hub for lo­gistics and tourism in the region—from frequent flooding. ADB will also continue to mobilise cofi­nancing from development partners, such as the Euro­pean Investment Bank and the World Bank.

ADB presence

ADB is building its pres­ence in 11 Pacific island countries to increase the impact of its growing pro­gramme of assistance.

The expansion will in­volve the conversion of four extended missions—Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu—into country offices, and the es­tablishment of seven new country offices in the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiri­bati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, and Tuvalu.

ADB currently has resi­dent missions in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, a Pacific liaison and coordination office in Syd­ney, and a Pacific subre­gional office in Fiji.

Across the Pacific region, ADB is significantly scal­ing up financing to help developing member coun­tries achieve sustainable economic and social devel­opment, while strengthen­ing climate and disaster resilience.

The volume of active ADB projects in the Pacific has doubled every five years since 2005 and exceeded $3 billion as of end of 2018.

The volume of active ADB projects in the Pacific is ex­pected to surpass US$4 bil­lion (FJ$8bn) by 2020.

New partnership

ADB’s new partnership strategy for the country will revolve around three tenets: promoting private sector investment and growth; broadening access to quality services and eco­nomic opportunities; and building resilience to natu­ral disasters and reducing economic volatility.

Below are excerpts of an interview with Masayuki Tachiiri, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregion­al Office, talking about the partnership between ADB and Fiji.

What is the economic out­look for Fiji?

We expect stable econom­ic growth – in the past, this was around three per cent. Fiji has just formed a new government, which is the same government they had before the elections, with a cabinet consisting mostly of the same ministers.

So, we expect continued economic reforms and eco­nomic growth to be also stable like we had in the past.

What are the issues facing Fiji?

One of the issues the country is facing is how to promote private invest­ments.

The public sector has been driving the economy in recent years.

However, private sector investment is crucial to achieve fiscal consolida­tion and improve the econ­omy’s sustainability.

ADB is helping Fiji im­prove the investment en­vironment and the crucial infrastructure that can catalyze private sector in­vestment.

How is ADB assisting Fiji’s development?

ADB is preparing a new country partnership strat­egy for Fiji covering the period 2019 to 2023.

This is based on three pil­lars.

The first pillar is the pro­motion and facilitation of

private sector investments, which I already mentioned.

The second pillar is the development of more inclusiveness in the country’s econom­ic agenda, which means broader access to economic and social services.

The third pillar is about building resilience in the fiscal sector and in the country’s infra­structure.

Fiji is a small country that is vulnerable to natural disasters, so building resilience is very important for the country’s prospects.

In 2019, ADB will host its annual meeting in Fiji.

What is the significance of this event for Fiji and the rest of the Pacific?

This is a very important event for Fiji. We expect 3000 plus delegates, making it one of the biggest events in Fiji and the South Pa­cific.

It will be an opportunity for ADB to show­case what was achieved through our cooper­ation with our partners in the South Pacific. Also, it will be an ideal forum to identify op­portunities for further growth in the entire Pacific region.

How will ADB assistance to Fiji and the rest of the Pacific evolve in the future?

For sure, ADB will continue to provide ba­sic support to Fiji.

This means that building infrastructure and improving public sector management will continue.

Further on, however, we will strengthen our partnerships with various institutions, including the government and regional or­ganisations.

This will allow us to strengthen regional integration and cooperation in the South Pa­cific, which is one of the issues we have been working on.

Among the Pacific island countries, Fiji is a relatively well-developed and advanced economy.

From Fiji, we will be able to work with smaller and less-developed countries from across the region.

Our work in Fiji will also benefit neigh­bouring countries.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

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