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EDITORIAL: We Are Better Today Than A Decade Ago

Fiji is a much more prosperous and inclusive na­tion today than a decade ago. Our economy has been expanding rapidly, pros­perity is shared, we have a robust and fast-growing private
05 Oct 2018 11:49
EDITORIAL: We Are Better Today Than A Decade Ago

Fiji is a much more prosperous and inclusive na­tion today than a decade ago.

Our economy has been expanding rapidly, pros­perity is shared, we have a robust and fast-growing private sector, infrastructure is being modernised and there are greater opportunities for all.

On the global stage, we are punching above our weight with leadership on issues such as climate change and chair of Small States grouping at the World Bank, amongst others.

When we talk about debt, Fijians need to remember we are richer as a nation.

At independence, the size of our economy was around $0.2 billion. it took almost 38 years since 1970 to increase the size of our economy to $5.6 billion.

Interestingly, what many political parties are not saying is that the economy doubled in size in the last 10 years and our per capita income has also doubled.

Our economy today is much more diversified and new growth sectors have emerged and existing ones have ex­panded.

Private sector investments have increased from 11 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2007 to 18 per cent of GDP. Our external sector is strong and foreign reserves are above $2billion – this is a fourfold increase since 2006.

Our unemployment rate is at a 20 year low of 4.5 per cent and over 40,000 jobs have been created in the last five years. This is easy to verify from new Fiji National Provident Fund accounts that have been created to cater for compulsory FNPF deductions.

Since 2007, over $3 billion has been spent to improve and modernise our roads, bridges and jetties. This is three times more compared to what was spent from 1980 to 2006 which is 27 years.

Annual allocation for this is 10 fold higher than 2004.

Over $1.8billion has been spent since 2007 in upgrading aged water and sewerage structure, investing in new wa­ter sources, reducing non-revenue water (leakages) and increasing connection to centralised sewerage system.

Today, free water programme is benefitting almost 26,000 households and $50.8m was provided in the 2018-2019 national Budget for rural electrification.

Where only $6million was allocated in 1999 for the wel­fare of the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged, in the 2018-2019 Budget, over $107m is allocated.

While nominal debt has been increasing, debt to GDP ratio has been declining steadily.

Our general election needs to be fought on how the lives of Fijians will be made better. It should be more than race and religion and thuggery. It should be about policies. This is where Fiji have come from in the last decade. Initiatives such as $1000 for new mothers and their babies if their household income is below $30,000, is something we had heard was happening overseas. It is happening in Fiji now.

Fijians need to prepare themselves to ask the hard questions. We need to know which of these policies are continuing and which ones will be dropped.

And, political parties owe it to us to be upfront. Not say one thing, then the fine print in their policies say some­thing else.

Let the campaigns begin!

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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