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Opinion: Why Development Critical for Any Government

I went to the Guangdong Prov­ince in China recently. The city has high-rise buildings, wide roads, busy roads, neat and clean streets, and orderly. The slogan “Development is the number
20 Sep 2018 18:56
Opinion: Why Development Critical for Any Government
A section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge leads to an artificial island, to be opened in Zhuhai, China March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

I went to the Guangdong Prov­ince in China recently. The city has high-rise buildings, wide roads, busy roads, neat and clean streets, and orderly. The slogan “Development is the number one priority” can be seen everywhere on the main street. After seeing the ever-changing scenes in China, I think of Fiji from time to time, and I hope that Fiji will develop just as fast as China is.

China’s rapid growth

At the beginning of the reform and opening up 40 years ago, China put forward the slogan of “develop­ment is the last word”. Since then, the government’s work has focused on the development of the national economy, and various economic policies have focused on reforms and opening up to attract foreign investment.

Today, 40 years later, China has become the world’s second largest economy, and still regards develop­ment as the top priority at all levels of government work. The continu­ous development of the country’s national economy and the steady improvement of living standards are paramount and should be placed at the top of the Govern­ment’s work.

Why foreign investment

Since the FijiFirst Government has been in power, it has displayed great commitment to economic re­covery and development, and has achieved better development re­sults than ever before. The urban and rural areas have undergone great changes and improvements. This is a fact that is obvious to all. The people are happy and proud of this. However, some interest groups and individuals have some objects, and deliberately make irresponsi­ble remarks about the development in terms of economic measures and achievements put forward by the current Fijian Government, in order to achieve the purpose of denying the current Government’s achievements, but to achieve their goals.

For example, they said that a 28-storey building currently under construction in Suva is too high for Fiji and are worried about quality issues; that foreign investment has threatened Fiji; and that foreigners have robbed Fijian people of their jobs. I believe that the practice of these so-called development crit­ics is to hinder the development of the country and harm the inter­ests of the Fijian people. I believe this is intentionally creating nega­tive public opinion. The 28-storey building is not a tall building at all, and it is the height of an ordinary residential building in China. Why shouldn’t Fiji build several high-rise buildings? Should Fiji be kept lagging behind forever?

Others say that the steel structure is not suitable for environment be­cause it is close to the sea. It can be said that the steel structure is one of the main structural forms of the building; the most commonly used structural form in modern archi­tecture, and the building structure commonly used in coastal cities around the world.

As for the architectural and struc­tural design as well as the construc­tion requirements, material selec­tion, etc, it is ok to be standardised by the engineers. We certainly have to trust the engineers, otherwise who should we believe?

Investment by foreigners threat­ening Fiji’s national security is another foolish and misleading ar­gument. Fiji is a sovereign country with a sound government and mili­tary. The core interests of the coun­try will not be damaged by other countries. Foreigners come to Fiji to invest. The current Fijian Gov­ernment has been actively attract­ing foreign investment for many years to promote the rapid devel­opment of Fiji’s economy. This is a very positive and effective strategy for strengthening the country’s eco­nomic growth.

The internet age

Today, human society has entered the internet age and the historic stage of rapid development. If Fiji can’t develop quickly, it can only be eliminated. When faced with backwardness, those who oppose attracting foreign investment will definitely jump out and accuse the government of incompetence. The only effective way to develop quick­ly is to attract foreign capital and foreign technology.

Other critics say that foreigners are entering the country to grab the work of Fijians, and that the iTaukei can do what they can with­out foreigners coming in. This is also a foolish statement. First, you let foreigners come to Fiji with money and technology, and you don’t let their technicians come in, then you let them do business and how to make their money and technology work. Often, investors don’t bring extra technicians to Fiji because it increases their costs and they would have to buy round-trip tickets for these people, worry about their accommodation and welfare, and pay a very high sal­ary. If not, no one will be willing to do so. In fact, foreign investors are willing to use local people as much as possible because it cuts costs.

Other critics also say that the tech­nical jobs that locals can do will not require foreigners to come in. This statement is only suitable if the number of local technical workers are sufficient, otherwise that no­tion is false.

For example, in the construction industry, locals certainly have such things as woodworkers, bricklay­ers, steelworkers, welders, and so on. The speed of capital construc­tion in Fiji has accelerated remark­ably in the past few years, and there have been serious shortages of technical workers in construc­tion. This should not be said simply that the locals will do the work and refuse to hire the required techni­cians from overseas.

If a medium-sized construction project requires 50 skilled workers, and if only 25 technicians can be re­cruited locally, the construction pe­riod of the project will be doubled. If only 10 people can be recruited, then the construction period will be delayed five times. Imagine if there are 100 projects under con­struction in the country, then the construction speed of the whole country will be greatly reduced. If this extended period of time is used to protect the employment of local people, is this what the Govern­ment and people want?

I hope that our Government will have the power to rule and not be disturbed by some opposing voices, but unswervingly follow the path of reform and opening up, attract more foreign capital and technol­ogy, and accelerate the develop­ment of the national economy and society.

Chinese lesson

There is an old saying in China – Governing a great country is like cooking a small fish. We need to be careful not to flip it at will, other­wise the white flesh will break eas­ily, meaning that the country will be messed up. Here is the hope that the Government’s policies can’t be easily changed. Don’t change the policy immediately because some­one raises an objection.

Investment Fiji has approved for­eign investment projects, but the Fiji Immigration Department re­fused to give work permits. This has had a bad influence on foreign investors. We must reform and open up.

To accelerate the speed of our na­tional economic development, we must introduce foreign capital and foreign technology. To achieve this goal, we must have a good external environment to attract foreign in­vestment and create fair conditions for survival and development for the investors. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the su­pervision of foreign investors to ensure that talents who are useful for the country’s economic develop­ment come in. Vigorously promot­ing and accelerating the country’s economic development and rapid development is the first important task of the FijiFirst Government.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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