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Tripartite Talks – Government, Private Sector, and FCEF Discuss Small And Medium Entrepreneur Sector

An eight per cent improvement in the use of COVID-19 related controls in the business community was noted in recent weeks. Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport permanent secretary
26 Jan 2022 13:00
Tripartite Talks – Government, Private Sector, and FCEF Discuss Small And Medium Entrepreneur Sector
Minister of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya.

An eight per cent improvement in the use of COVID-19 related controls in the business community was noted in recent weeks.

Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport permanent secretary Shaheen Ali made the comment during virtual tripartite talks yesterday which focused on solutions to improve the role of the small and medium entrepreneur sector.

 

The announcement followed revelations that five businesses were forced to shut down for failing to comply with COVID-19 protocols.

The Government’s intention was not to deter businesses from operating, but improve compliance, Mr Ali said.

This, as SMES called for another round of tripartite talks.

 

He said the Ministry of Communication was working with a German vendor to develop Fiji’s electronic vaccination certificate.

Line minister, Faiyaz Koya launched the two-hour virtual discussion which was hosted by the International Labour Organisation.

Participants included Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation, Fiji SME Business Owners Network founder and businesswoman, Kim Beddoes, and Duavata Collective’s secretary Marita Manley.

Mr Koya said vaccination alone could not work, and called for stringent adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

 

The statistics
He said 6,000 businesses around Fiji were monitored.

“It is disappointing that the results of the monitoring indicate sheer negligence and disregard of rules and protocols,” Mr Koya said.

“We are not seeing the commitment from the business community.”

 

According to Mr Koya:
62 per cent or 3,720 of high risk businesses inspected did not use the Vax-Check tool to verify customer’s vaccination status before allowing them into their premises.

41 per cent or 2,460 businesses did not practice temperature check at their business entrance.

35 per cent or 2,100 businesses did not sanitise their customers before entering the premises, and

43 per cent or 2,580 businesses did not check their patrons for the careFIJI app.

 

As of January 8, 2021, 48 Public Health Infringement Notices were issued to businesses that failed to comply with regulated COVID-19 measures, Mr Koya said.

“Out of the 48 fixed COVID penalties, 32 are business related,” he said.

 

MSMEs
Ms Beddoes said the SME sector made up 60- per cent of the employment sector pre-COVID-19, and contributed 18 per cent to Fiji’s gross domestic product.

She called for more direct dialogue with the Government over the way forward.

 

Business operator Watesoni Nata Jr, recommended assistance as SMEs spent more than they earned on expenses that were directly related to COVID-19 protocols.

A company of five or less employees spent a monthly budget of $1,670 on COVID-19 expenses, he said.

“Before we smack them with one hand, we rear them with the other,” he said.

 

Ms Manley said the 12 SMEs represented in the Duavata Collective punched above their weight for international branding of local experiences that sold Fiji as a destination.

 

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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