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Interventions Made Through Budget: Ali

The Fijian economy has registered the sharpest economic decline of 19 per cent in 2020, said acting Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Shaheen Ali. Speaking at workshop hosted by the
05 Mar 2021 09:38
Interventions Made Through Budget: Ali
From left, Suva Retailers Association president, Jitesh Patel, acting Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Shaheen Ali, and Suva Lami special administrator chair Isikeli Tikoduadua.

The Fijian economy has registered the sharpest economic decline of 19 per cent in 2020, said acting Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Shaheen Ali.

Speaking at workshop hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), he said the decline was equivalent to a loss in gross domestic product (GDP) of over FJ$2 billion.

The workshop, which was based on building urban economic resilience during and after COVID-19, was held in Suva yesterday.

“The prolonged border closure, coupled with the devastating impact of tropical cyclones Yasa, Ana and Bina, has further delayed the rebound of GDP to pre-COVID levels for at least the next three years,” Mr Ali said.

He said the tourism industry, which had once accounted for over a third of the Fijian GDP, was most affected.

 

Unemployment
“In the early months of the pandemic, unemployment temporarily spiked to 100,000,” Mr Ali said.

To curb the impacts of the global pandemic, Mr Ali said the Fijian Government took immediate and decisive actions.

“The policy interventions were delivered through the COVID Response Budget and the 2020-2021 National Budget.”

“To date, $216.6 million has been paid to those who have lost their jobs or are on reduced wages.”

“Government has paid out $102 million, and approximately $114.6 million has been withdrawn from FNPF member general account.”

He said around $30 million had been given as concessional loans to 5,438 micro, small and medium enterprises, mainly in the agriculture, wholesale and retail, food and hospitality, transportation, manufacturing, and other service driven sectors.

“The Government also launched the Fijian COVID Safe Economic Recovery Framework.”

“Under the Framework, we’ve trialed and implemented safe entry of visitors – both leisure and non-leisure travel.”

“This includes the establishment of various travel bubbles and Vacation in Paradise (VIP) and Blue Lanes, allowing individuals and groups to enter Fiji by air and sea.”

 

Unique Challemges
While the immediate responses had cushioned the impacts of COVID-19, Mr Ali urged the UNESCAP and UNDESA to note that nations in the Pacific were different from developing countries in Asia.

“Our challenges are unique, therefore, the responses should also be unique.”

“The Pacific region needs tailor made Pacific solutions.”

“I urge our United Nations (UN) partners to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Suva City Council and the Government to achieve tangible results with impact on the ground.”

“And this needs to be done in a timely manner when the impact of COVID and climate change are at its height and affecting the most vulnerable.”

 

Feedback: shreya.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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