Forum Focused on Economic Growth

The whole policy behind the 2017/2018 Fijian National Budget was not dragged out of a bag within the last few months before its official announcement. It was part of proper
06 Aug 2017 12:34
Forum Focused on Economic Growth
Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (left) while speking at Fiji Business Forum 2017 at Grand Pacific Hotel on August 05, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

The whole policy behind the 2017/2018 Fijian National Budget was not dragged out of a bag within the last few months before its official announcement. It was part of proper planning for development.

Speaking at the 2017 Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Forum at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva yesterday, the Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told how the Government identified issues they wanted to work on.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Government had a long term game plan for development of the nation.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said just like any business they do not think and make plans on a yearly basis.

Thinking on a long term basis and having a five to 20 year plan is important and similarly that is what the Government has done.

“What is important is that we need to be able to recognise that once the economy is growing we need to maintain the momentum and consistency of policies”.

He said it is important to also be able to capitalise exactly what is happening in any economy and make sure we have the right resources directed in this growth phase. Because if we don’t we will lose the momentum.

Mr Sayed Khaiyum said everyone in Fiji wants the economy to grow and their earning individual capacity to increase.

He said he will soon be travelling around Fiji to talk more about the National Budget.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it is important to get the message across.

Meanwhile, while also present at the ANZ Pacific Innovation Challenge earlier yesterday Mr SayedKhaiyum said he encouraged the young innovators not to migrate but to stay in Fiji.

He acknowledged the young group of people and advised the various business people that Fiji has a lot of potential but they need to create the right conducive environment to retain our young people.

At the Forum, delegates were also addressed by key Ministers on areas of Focus prepared by the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

  • Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jone Usamate,

Areas of Focus

  • The initiative to build a more productive workforce
  • The quality of workforce issues to up-skilling and aligning to industry need.

Mr Usamate said first, a worker needs to be more productive, they not only need to know the work, they need to do the work.

There is a need for investment in training and education to increasing productivity, he said.

“The focus of the ministry is trying to be fair as possible, to workers and employers.

“The Ministry’s requirement is to be impartial. We don’t have to favour employees or employers, we are trying to work for the benefit of both,” said Mr Usamate.

  • Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu

Areas of Focus

  • Update on Agriculture exports

Agriculture is not performing to the level of expectation but it’s performing quite well, said Mr Seruiratu.

He added that to perform well it requires funds and facilities and with the allocation of the Agriculture budget this year, they will definitely perform better.

  • Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya

Area of Focus:

  • Land- Approval Delays Continuing.
  • MSME: Possibility of a centralised Body to Work

Mr Koya said one of the difficulties that is faced by Lands is the lack of staff for surveys, as there is a need to employ qualified workers.

Also getting people on to the ground to monitor the team is something that they are looking at.

He added that in terms of MSME sector and the possibility of the centralised body to work, they have MSME central coordinating agencies to deliver business incubation, mentoring and training as well as innovation services for all the MSME.

The Government is also working in trying to expand the export base and find new markets for Fiji

Delegates at Fiji Business Forum 2017 at Grand Pacific Hotel on August 05, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Delegates at Fiji Business Forum 2017 at Grand Pacific Hotel on August 05, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar

  • Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Infrastructure and Transport Parveen Kumar.

Areas of Focus:

  • Local Government Approvals: Processes are still very slow.
  • Cleaner and greener cities: Plans?
  • Roads and traffic, transportation delays.

Mr Kumar said it is true that the approval processes are slow.

They have revisited on this timeline and now the resuming process will take 30 working days, land subdivision take 30 working days and the approval of building application will take another 20 working days.

“We need to find solutions.”

He added that workers have been advised to always copy the clients in their e-mails when writing to consultants so that the clients would know the processes that need to be undertaken by consultants.

For Cleaner and Greener cities:

Mr Kumar said there are plans to improve the services and for the first time there will be ‘vacuum cleaners’ to clean the towns and cities.

In terms of traffic:

“We are looking at the means and ways to reduce traffic congestions. “We all have to agree that the traffic is not only in Suva but all over Fiji,” said Mr Kumar. He added that there are plans set but it’s a little too early to speak on. They waiting for a report and they will comment after that.

  • Speaking on behalf of the Health Ministry was the AttorneyGeneral, Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Public Service and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Areas of Focus:

Cleaner Hospitals

  • Delivery of Services: Attitude to Service
  • Update on Medical Professionals recruitment
  • Emergency Service

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said National Fire Authority, St. John’s Ambulance and Ambulances that are assigned by hospitals have been delivering ambulance services. He added that Private sectors can also participate in the services in Fiji and entrepreneurs need to think about that too.

For Medical Professionals recruitment recently, Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar and her team were in India to interview some specialist. These are not only restricted to india, but also including Australia and New Zealand. Applications are coming forward, some has been selected.

He added that there are other areas we lack specialists and the Government has allocated funds for it.

Meanwhile, we lack local specialist because there had been no investment in them and it takes about 10-15 years to be a specialist.

For delivery of Services: Attitude to Service

Please call 157 if you are treated in an ill-mannered manner by doctors, nurses or security guards and lodge your complaint immediately. There is a protocol that has been set up for this service, said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

The issues in the hospitals are all operational issues and not a political issue and it needs to be dealt with in an operational manner, he said.

“It becomes a political issue if the government doesn’t give enough money.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that there are certain aspects that need improvement and the public need to understand that public health services in Fiji are doing well.

Also for public health services, there has been a pay rise for qualified doctors to ensure they are interested in public services.


  1. Update on the Digitalisation on Registration of Companies

Earlier Mr Sayed-Khaiyum responded to the question saying for digitalisation, there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

First there is a need to ensure that the existing record of the company has to be in digital format.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that they have noticed in many company files, people have been ripping out the original documents which makes it difficult for them to compile.

Recently, the Government had signed an agreement with Singapore Development Corporation for assistance.

He added that Singapore registers a company within 15 minutes.

Their target is to register a company in 3 minutes.

Fiji is now working with the Singaporeans who have expertise in digitalisation.

They were a bit of disappointed with some current suppliers, so the Singaporeans are being brought in for fast tracking so you will be able to sit from the comfort of your home and go online , said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

  1. We have companies in Fiji who seemed to have only one Fijian employee, what is the Government doing to these foreign investors?

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum responded saying that is an issue that the Government is currently looking at.

He said that there are certain foreign businesses that are engaging with employing people whose services can actually be provided by Fijians.

However, some foreign investors can be clever at how they set up their businesses.

There are certain types of entities that are exempt and there are certain things that they can do that the corporate body cannot do.

“But we are looking into it.” he said.

  1. What are you doing to improve the cement supply?

Pacific Cement Limited director Nouzab Fareed responded saying there is no need to worry.

“The demand for cement has increased to 1,500 tonnes of cement supply a day, but the two cement suppliers can only produce 1,200 tonnes and there is a small gap.”

He added, however, thanks to the Government, Pacific cement will import 25,000- tonnes of cement which will come in early next month.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum commented saying that hopefully the breakdown of the machine will enable Pacific Cement to modernise its facilities.

The lack of cement had also contributed to some of the slower rebuilding from Cyclone Winston in respect to building of homes and schools.

  1. Are you not interested in expanding Tourism facilities in Suva and after Lautoka? right now it’s concentrated in Nadi.

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya responded saying Suva is a wonderful sports tourism destination.

But more development is needed to build on this. The half-a-day event was a success filled with informative idea. It was sponsored by ANZ Fiji and supported by Vodafone Fiji with over 140 delegates.

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.

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