Momi Bay Lifts Fiji

The Momi Bay project that came to a halt seven years ago – effectively killed off by mismanagement by the then developers – has been resurrected. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama
14 Nov 2014 08:22
Momi Bay Lifts Fiji
From left: Filipe Nacewa,Tui Naloto Ratu Kini Vosailagi and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the re-launch of the Momi Bay Resort Redevelopment site yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

The Momi Bay project that came to a halt seven years ago – effectively killed off by mismanagement by the then developers – has been resurrected.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama re-launched the development at the Momi Bay site yesterday.

Government estimates this project alone will add more than two per cent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next two years.

It is also expected to generate more than 400 new jobs during the construction phase and 500 when the resort opens for business.

Mr Bainimarama said: “We are breathing new life into the partially-built complex that had come to resemble a ghost town.”

He proudly said all is now on track for a spectacular opening in the next two years.

“The Marriott Resort at Momi Bay is destined to become one of the brightest jewels in the crown of Fiji’s tourism industry,” he said.

“And the entire project is set to significantly boost the Fijian economy, which is already growing by four per cent a year in a sustained burst that we have only witnessed twice before in our post-Independence history.”

The flow-on benefits from the project will spread through the wider economy to the sub-contractors, Fijian-made fittings and fixtures

and opportunities for garment and other manufacturers.

Also the food and beverage suppliers, transport operators, tour operators, duty free and other shopping, Fijian Made handicrafts and souvenirs, local entertainers, etc.

End to a sorry saga

The relaunch of the project brings a happy ending to a sorry saga over the past seven years that proved to be very costly for many people and for Fiji’s reputation.

Mr Bainimarama said when the original New Zealand developer of the project, Bridgecorp, collapsed in 2007, many of the local contractors suffered heavy losses.

“But it also meant a loss for most Fijians because of the substantial investment in this project of the Fiji National Provident Fund, our national superannuation fund,” Mr Bainimarama said.

In 2010, Government stepped in to save the Momi Bay project with an outlay of $150m. But this was done only after insisting on a fundamental reform of the FNPF to address the general mishandling of its investments.

Mr Bainimarama said this was to breathe life into what was euphemistically called its non-performing assets.

He said these included not only the Momi Bay project but the residential development at Natadola and the iconic Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

“We have closed a chapter in which the Momi Bay project – like the GPH – had come to symbolise Fiji’s arrested development.

“It damaged the confidence of ordinary Fijians in the FNPF and its ability to affectively manage their retirement savings.

“It damaged the confidence of the Momi landowners and other residents, who saw a project started and then abandoned, with all the false promises and disruption to their way of life.

“It damaged international confidence in Fiji and our ability to finish what we had started. And perhaps worst of all, it damaged our confidence in ourselves. It must never happen again,” he said.

Turnaround in fortunes

Mr Bainimarama said we drew a line under the failure and celebrate a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of this project.

“Just as we celebrate the revival of the fortunes of our nation – a booming economy and our new and vibrant democracy,” he said.

“The turnaround here arises out of the remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the FNPF because of the reforms instituted by my Government.

“Before these reforms, there was a very real prospect of the FNPF going broke by 2052 and those in their 20s now having no retirement savings, but we were not prepared to allow that to happen.

“By appointing a new board – which installed a new management team and began insisting on proper standards of corporate governance, accountability and transparency – we were able to reverse the FNPF’s decline and put it on a secure footing.”





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