Opinion

PM SIGNALS START OF TOWER OF THE FUTURE

  The following is the Prime Minister’s address at the ground breaking ceremony of Fijian Holdings Tower on September 20, 2018. Honourable Ministers; The Chair, Board and Manage­ment of FHL
21 Sep 2018 10:48
PM SIGNALS START OF TOWER OF THE FUTURE
An artist’s impression of new Fiji Holdings Limited Tower being built on Gordon Street, Suva.

 

The following is the Prime Minister’s address at the ground breaking ceremony of Fijian Holdings Tower on September 20, 2018.

Honourable Ministers;

The Chair, Board and Manage­ment of FHL Group;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

As we gather here this morning, I am proud and I am excited to break ground on yet another iconic fixture of the Suva city skyline.

Today, we are giving a new, state-of-the-art home to one of our most impor­tant and successful companies, Fijian Holdings Limited.

And today, we are further cementing our capital city as the dynamic hub of development, of economic exchange, of finance and of investment for the entire South Pacific.

17-storey FHL tower

From where I speak with you today will soon stand a brand new 17-storey FHL Tower, representing a total invest­ment of $65 million.

It will house 13,000 square feet of com­mercial office space and it will stand over 60 metres tall.

I’m told that on a clear day, you will be able to see Kadavu from the rooftop of this new tower. I’m not so sure about that, but I do look forward to being back here in 2021 – when this building will be completed – to see for myself if that’s the case.

When that day comes, the halls of this new tower will be filled with Fijian businesses, international agencies and organisations, diplomatic staff and so many others who together will make this new tower a hive of economic ac­tivity.

More than that, it will be a beacon to the rest of the nation, and a message to the world, of Fijian progress, greatness and achievement.

Friends, moments like today are wor­thy of reflection. We can look back on how far our capital has come these past 10 years, how the face of Suva has changed, and how that has changed the lives of our people for the better.

New opportunities

Because every new building repre­sents new opportunity, a new opportu­nity for new businesses to set up shop and for others to expand and a new op­portunity for our people to secure high-paying jobs.

But it also means something more. It fills our people with a sense of pride when they drive or walk our streets with their families.

It brings every Fijian hope for what is to come when they look out over the capital and see the cranes dotting the skyline and the new structures being erected; all clear and impressive signs that we are finally fulfilling our destiny and finally realising our great potential as a nation. If it were up to the Oppo­sition, the economic boom that we’re witnessing in Suva, and this building itself, wouldn’t even be possible.

That’s not my opinion of their irre­sponsible economic policy proposals, either –– they’ve actually said this.

Just a few months ago, the leader of SODELPA actually went so far as to say that buildings in Fiji should be no tall­er than palm trees. It seems like a joke, but these are the kind of absurd state­ments they come up with –– reckless and thoughtless policies that would ab­solutely cripple our economic growth.

They make promises to go back to a Fiji of yesterday, feeding into un­founded fears instead of embracing the modern nation that my Government is creating for the benefit of all Fijian families.

But while their vision for Fiji’s future is limited to palm-tree-height, the Fi­jian people know full well that our na­tion’s potential is sky-high.

Moving forward

Luckily, our nation is not being led backwards by my opponents. We’re moving forwards and our progress is testament to the well thought out plan I have for our economic growth and for the development of our country, a plan I have laid out repeatedly as Prime Min­ister, and a plan I’ve stuck to from the very beginning.

It’s testament to our consistent eco­nomic policies, steadfast financial man­agement and bold policy-making; all of which have given FHL a foundation to achieve record success of your own.

In 2011, FHL’s revenue stood at $184 million, your profits hovered at $6.5 million, and your asset base was valued at around $344 million.

Today, your revenue has nearly dou­bled, standing at $311 million. Profits have gone up more than five times to $35.7 million, and your asset base has grown to over half a billion dollars in value.

Your share price broke records this year as well, peaking at $6 and 15 cents per share, and I’m excited to hear you’re on track to become a billion-dollar com­pany within the next seven years.

Right people the right for jobs

And I want to thank the Chair, the Board, the CEO and Management of FHL for doing so well by their share­holders and investors.

What this shows ladies and gentlemen is that we need the right people for the right jobs. The ethnicity, religion or province of the Chairman and Board does not matter but what matters, is which person can deliver the best re­turns for the shareholders.

Companies are run for the benefit of the shareholders not for the benefit of individuals to hold various manage­ment and board positions.

FHL companies are at the forefront of our economic development, contribut­ing to the growth of tourism, opening up new areas of our country to oppor­tunity and quite literally building a better, stronger and more resilient Fiji, as Pacific Cement has been absolutely critical to our rebuild from Cyclone Winston.

And while I haven’t yet been to see it for myself, I hear the Malamala Beach Club is a beautiful new venue.

Friends, that is what naturally hap­pens when an economy grows and keeps growing: investments make re­turns and shareholders benefit.

At FHL, your shareholders are the great beneficiaries of your steady man­agement, smart investments, and of the record, unprecedented growth of the Fijian economy.

We also hear a lot of talk these days from Opposition politicians on the protection of the iTaukei. Sadly, we’re seeing the same, tried and failed, argu­ments we’ve heard for years. Again, the Opposition is claiming that indigenous rights in this country are under at­tack and that somehow, they – and they alone – can protect the iTaukei.

I’m sure many of us are again scratch­ing our heads wondering what they could possibly mean, especially given the unprecedented protections of iTaukei land, heritage and culture guar­anteed – for all time – in the Fijian Con­stitution; given the nine straight years of economic growth we’ve achieved for Fiji, and the prosperity that is be­ing shared by every Fijian; given the achievement of FHL we celebrate today and given that we have got rid of the privilege and elitism that thrived un­der the guise of protectionism.

Equal access to prosperity

Ladies and gentlemen, we are level­ling the playing field across Fijian soci­ety, giving every Fijian, including every iTaukei, equal access to our prosperity and to the benefits of their labour.

But even when seeing all of that pro­gress, these same politicians, these same failed leaders, are back at it again with claims the iTaukei face some grave threat to their well-being.

I have to ask, who are they hoping to fool? Do they really think that’s some­thing Fijians will go for?

Those same lies failed them back in 2014, and they will fail them again in the upcoming elections.

And I can only hope that once that happens, we can finally move on past this old gang of politicians, their old way of thinking and their old ways of deceit.

Finally, we can shake off the strangle hold of privilege, corruption and arro­gance that they have held over our soci­ety for decades.

Finally, we can send one final and pow­erful rebuke to their style of politics, the politics of division, of hatred and disunity. The politics of gross econom­ic mismanagement. The politics that does not empower ordinary Fijians.

FHL is proving the lies of my oppo­nents wrong every day. Your over 1200 shareholders have seen for themselves what progress means for the Fijian peo­ple.

Because in this day and age, finally, Fiji is succeeding, and our success means the success of every Fijian.

Not only the success of the rich, not only the success of those with the right last name or the right connections, but for every Fijian, everywhere in the country.

Celebrate development

Because today we may celebrate de­velopment in Suva, but this same rapid pace of development is being felt eve­rywhere in the country, in rural and urban areas alike, for Indo-Fijians, for iTaukei, for Rotumans, for Hindus, for Muslims, for Methodists, Catholics, As­semblies of God, Latter-Day Saints, the 7th Day Adventist and every other de­nomination, for every Fijian.

That has been my promise from day one, and it is a promise we’re fulfilling each and every day by continuing to grow our national cake, and by giving every Fijian a bigger slice.

Friends, this isn’t the first time this week that we’ve looked towards where our nation is headed.

Yesterday morning, I broke ground on the Nausori Airport Runway Exten­sion, setting the stage for a more global and more connected Suva-Nausori Corridor. And in the afternoon, we an­nounced our line-up of FijiFirst candi­dates for the 2018 General Election.

That line-up includes many of the champions who have been on the front­lines of delivering the promises of my Government these past four years, and new faces as well, who will bring new ideas, new ways of thinking and new perspectives that will help take Fiji forward through the next four years of Government.

So we can continue to deliver on our great promises to the Fijian people, continue to improve the well-being of all of our people, in an open and inclu­sive manner, and so we can continue making developments – like this – pos­sible for our citizens.

All of this bodes extremely well for our future.

It bodes well for businesses, it bodes well for families and it most especially bodes well for the next generation of Fijians, who will one day take up the reigns of leadership in this country.

Today, we are turning a very big dream into a reality.

And soon, Suva will be blessed with another addition to its skyline, among the most impressive ever seen in the Pacific, and another symbol of our suc­cess, our ambition and of my Govern­ment’s proven ability to deliver for our nation and our people.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 



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