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Shaheen Ali: Starting Business, Building Permits To Be Made Easier In The Coming Months

I’m pleased to have so many of you – our valuable stakeholders – here this morning. You’ve all been an important part of a journey we set out for four
16 Mar 2022 11:00
Shaheen Ali: Starting Business, Building Permits To Be Made Easier In The Coming Months
Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali (left), with guests and participants of the Programme Management Planning Workshop at Holiday Inn Suva on March 15, 2022. Photo: Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport

I’m pleased to have so many of you – our valuable stakeholders – here this morning.

You’ve all been an important part of a journey we set out for four years ago.

A journey to a digital Government through what we call ‘Project bizFIJI 2.0’.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, When we started this ‘doing business’ reforms, we did so systematically, commencing with the construction permits, followed by starting a business.

With your support and cooperation as key agencies, we managed to map out and re-engineer processes.

This saw one of our greatest achievements in July 2019 – the launch of the bizFIJI portal – a one stop source for doing business information.

 

But this was not the final destination
— and reforms did not end with
the launch of bizFIJI.

 

The Fijian Government also:
1. Created a fast-track approval process for building permits, through the Regulations of Building Permits Act 2017

2. Eliminated Stamp Duty requirement, while registering properties

3. Introduced a Risk Based approach to a number of processes

4. Repealed the Business Licensing Act to eliminate business license

5. Brought registration of companies and business name registration online

6. Introduced the Taxpayers Online System to make paying taxes easier

7. We also put in place a new Investment framework — focused on attracting and growing foreign and domestic investment

 

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Our focus has remained making our individual processes and systems a lot easier so that combined, it makes doing business easier.

We are now looking at taking reforms to the next level.

Reforms that benefit businesses, reforms that bring in more investment, band reforms that future-proof our economy.

 

bizFIJI 2.0
And today, we are at the brink of establishing the digitalisation portal – bizFIJI 2.0.

And complete the transformation from an ‘Information Portal’ to an ‘Interactive’ one where you will be able to obtain approvals – at the press of a button (so to speak) – without having to physically go from agency to agency to start a business or to obtain a construction permit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We are not out of sync with the national vision.

 

In a majority – if not all – of the forums I speak at, I talk about a collective national vision.

And this forward-looking vision is guided by Fiji’s 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP ladies and gentlemen, seeks to ‘Transform Fiji’ into a thriving economic hub, through the creation of a highly functional and transparent climate for business.

 

As I mentioned, ‘Project bizFIJI 2.0’ provides a direct interface between the applicant and approval agencies.

The two main areas being piloted by the system, will be starting a business and obtaining a permit to construct.

Whilst improvements have been made in the two areas, there are still a number of processes and agencies involved that will greatly benefit from alignment to a single digital platform.

 

Reforming
In the coming months, the processes for starting a business and building permits will be digitalised, making it easier for businesses to apply and engage with Government.

These reforms are geared towards building investor confidence, and confidence within the Government to continuously improve our services.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The systems for starting a business and obtaining construction permits will allow for critical improvements in processing time and efficiency.

 

This will be achieved through integration of information, having a single ID or reference for projects, with real time tracking of applications and much more.

 

Strategic Direction
Coming back to the workshop, over these next three days, we will set the strategic direction and map out the implementation strategies, giving us the perspective of the relationship between people, policy and the portal.

Today (Day 1), we are going to focus on ‘Project Management’ to realise the project objectives.

Here, we are going to focus on the specific strategies to successfully deliver this project.

 

We will look at the project in its entirety and its life cycle so we have a better appreciation of what we are trying to achieve and how we will get there.

Colleagues, With reforms come changes – changes that need to be managed.

And that’s where tomorrow’s session on ‘Change Management’ comes into play where our focus will be the ‘people’.

 

This includes both, how we manage others and manage our mindsets.

Finally colleagues, on Thursday, we are going to pay special attention to collectively identifying potential risks and mitigating actions so we can achieve our strategic goals.

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, You have all been instrumental partners from the very beginning.

 

And with your support, we have come this far.

Even after the successful completion of this Project, with your commitment, we will continue to instigate reforms.

We call upon you, our partners, to be actively involved in this three day workshop, as it’s an investment in you to be agents of reform.

 

We will only be able to deliver this project if we all take ownership and collectively move forward.

And I cannot emphasise this enough.

With these words, I once again welcome you to this workshop.

 

The following is opening statement by Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali, during the Programme Management Planning Workshop at Holiday Inn Suva on March 15, 2022.

 

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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