SUNBIZ

PM Hands Out Grant Funds To Landowners

For those who need our support, we are giving it. Prime Mnister Voreqe Banimatrama made this comment at the distribution of the seed fund grant for landowners at Suva’s Grand
30 Oct 2020 12:35
PM Hands Out Grant Funds To Landowners
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with some recipients of the seed fund grant, at the Grand Pacific Hotel, on October 29, 2020. Photo: Elena Lauwai

For those who need our support, we are giving it.

Prime Mnister Voreqe Banimatrama made this comment at the distribution of the seed fund grant for landowners at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday.

Mr Bainimarama told landowners present at the event that no Government in the Fijian history has ever paid out more in unemployment assistance than we had through the COVID-19 crisis.

“To-date, of the $100million allocated in direct Government assistance, nearly $50m has been paid to Fijians this financial year alone, who are out-of-work or who are working on reduced hours. We’ve also provided incentives to the private sector to hire Fijians who have lost their jobs and livelihood, and we have allocated $60m in highly concessional loans for micro, small, and medium enterprises.”

“But we should not settle for short-term assistance, nor will we. Given we do not know when our border will re-open and given we cannot say when the revenues from Tourism will return, we must do more than sit, wait, twiddle our thumbs, and hope for the best. We cannot wait on the world to beat this virus. Instead, we have to create economic activity, create jobs, create development, and create prosperity for ourselves.”

About The SEED Programme
“That’s what this seed funding grant is designed to do. It is not a handout, it is an investment to empower our landowning communities to tap their assets and entrepreneurial spirit to make themselves financially powerful. Your land is protected for all time by our Fijian Constitution. But unless it is put to productive use, it will only remain an asset.”

“It will not generate income that can feed you and your families. We know the upfront costs of developing land or starting a business can be high, that is why we are stepping up with funding to help you realise your land’s full potential. Because we believe that your victories are your nation’s victories.”

“When you do well by developing your land, starting a business, or growing crops which help sustain our people, your families do well, your communities do well, and so do all of your fellow Fijians.”

In total, Mr Bainimarama said there were handing out $460,000 to 53 successful grant recipients who have put forward plans to lease their land or start or grow a new business project. “I’ve read through a few of the applications. We have Fijians here who will be farming dalo and yaqona, others who are in livestock, and others still who are in aqua-culture.”

“And we have some who are pursuing the development of their land, including through eco-tourism –– our borders may be closed today, but that does not mean we should not prepare for the day they re-open. When you pursue a new project and succeed, your community members see that happen. Others will see that happen, and they want to follow your lead.”

“The precedent you set –– your single, breakthrough success story –– can go on to inspire generations of business owners who have seen what success looks like first-hand, and hunger to taste it on their own, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship that transforms Fiji into an economy of job-makers rather than job-takers.”

He reminded landowners that as they continue to grow their business, they are encouraged to take advantage of the resources and support made available by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture. “You are not the first landowners whose business plans have merited investment. Since we began this initiative in 2017, $1.5m has been granted to landowners seeking to realise the full value of their land.”

“These Fijians’ success has been widely shared. Their farms are strengthening our nation’s nutrition security. Their businesses are expanding to hire more people. They are developing their land, creating housing. And they are earning revenue which they spend within our economy.”

“I remember the critics who said back who blasted these seed grants as handouts and freebies. Since then the hard work and success of those of our landowning entrepreneurs has proved them wrong, as will each of you. And as we plan our next great economic come-back in the wake of COVID-19, I look forward to the role each of you will play. Work hard, dream big, and I know you will do well. As a direct result, so will Fiji.”

Feedback: elena.lauwai@fijisun.com.fj


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