SUNBIZ

Key Partners Working Together to Ensure Ease of Doing Business

The Fijian Government is cur­rently working with the parties to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) in reviewing the existing trade agreement to en­sure it remains relevant.
16 Apr 2019 18:45
Key Partners Working Together to Ensure Ease of Doing Business
From left: Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry executives members Arvind Maharaj, Annemarie De Vos, Ana Tuiketei-Bolabiu, Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Development, Premila Kumar, Chamber President Nur Bano Ali, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service chief executive officer Visvanath Das and Executive members Sunil Sharma.

The Fiji Chamber of Com­merce and Industry have called for a focussed unit of some form within the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to address business concerns with a fast turn around.

The suggestion was made by Chamber of Commerce president Chamber President Nur Bano Ali, during the Fiji Chamber of Com­merce and Industry Business Sum­mit 2019 at the Holiday Inn Suva yesterday. Ms Ali highlighted that it took a lot of time and resource to be heard and for corrective action to be taken which results in loss of time and money.

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Devel­opment, Premila Kumar in reply to the suggestion said: “At the end of the day the line ministry is re­sponsible for the policies that are introduced.

“Implementation of some of these policies are rolled out by statutory bodies, for example; Investment Fiji.

“So if investors are facing prob­lems with an agency and they are not making a breakthrough then they can come to the ministry. We would be able to assist them like what we have been doing.”

Minister Kumar’s key points:

  • The Fijian Government is cur­rently working with the parties to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) in reviewing the existing trade agreement to en­sure it remains relevant in today’s time.

This review will also enable great­er intra-regional trade between Fiji and the other PICTA parties by simplifying the trading rules.

  • All Fijians benefit when our mar­kets work well. Dynamic, efficient, fair and competitive markets for goods and services can increase the standard of living across Fiji.
  • Competition is intrinsically linked to consumer protection and can drive private sector led sustainable development.
  • It is a strategic priority of the Fi­jian Government to foster competi­tion in the Fijian economy.
  • Robust and effective competi­tion policies can play a key role in contributing to further economic growth through improving effi­ciency and increase productivity. -In this regard, the Fijian Govern­ment is currently in the process of updating Fiji’s competition policy and legislation.
  • We hope to be able to bring this to you for the in depth consultations in the not-too distant future.

Key points from Ms Ali:

FCCI enjoys a healthy relation­ship with the Ministry of Trade and Government and therefore a conducive environment to promote business processes.

  • The reality is that business con­tinues to face delays in approval processes, problems with Fiji Rev­enue and Customs Service (FRCS).
  • FCCI aims for more real time en­gagement with the relevant agen­cies and the Ministry of Trade as the facilitator of that engagement.
  • To promote a more discussible approach to policy formulation so that business can work better to in turn realise more economic growth for Fiji.
  • Encourage an open forum so as to ensure that we all benefit for our common objective of better busi­ness and better socio-economic growth.

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Ariff Ali and FRCS chief executive officer Visvanath Das also made presentations during the Summit.

Governor Ali’s key points:

  • Central Banks are the first line of defence against economic insta­bility
  • Role is to try and manage the ma­jor driving force of the economy, business confidence, or its close analogue – credit
  • Monetary policy is forward look­ing – operates with a lag
  • Interest rates are at historical low despite rising cost of funds
  • There is no liquidity crisis- the level is consistent with where we want it to be. It is more than ade­quate to support economic activity.
  • The RBF can inject in excess of $1billion in liquidity of the situa­tion warranted.
  • The upward pressure on interest rates is because of robust growth in the economy and not a sign of crisis.

Key points from Mr Das:

  • In light of Government policies FRCS has a similar vision and con­sistency Basically what we want to create is an environment of volun­tary compliance and self assess­ment.
  • We want to support businesses, provide as much information as possible and provide all the sup­port so that the businesses grow.
  • At the end of the day if we look at the current numbers, the tax take compared to the total Gross Domestic Product is around 25 per cent and that is reasonably good. We don’t want to go any further than that.
  • In support we have done is a rul­ing regime in place. Our standard interpretation guideline have been effective and we will do more on this.
  • We have made a standing at the tax office that when it comes to changes in interpretation, it is not going to be applied retrospectively.
  • Ease of doing business, support­ing businesses, by capitalising on technology.
  • FRCS has invested in $48 million IT project, later this week rollout roadshows on the new IT system that we expect to probably go live by August 1.
  • We are trying to align it to the Government financial year, where­by you are expected to do online lodgement, portal access to your account, (you can look at your ac­count yourself, if you authorise your tax agent they can pickup your statement, notices, assess­ment and things like that).
  • Capitalising on technology to make our services better. Through the portal you can communicate with the Tax office.
  • I very hopefully that gone are the days that you have to bring the same documents five times and lodge to tax office.
  • You can lodge it online once and FRCS officers can assess it so there is no inconvenience to you because we want to leave you to do your business.

Working with smarter technol­ogy solutions.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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