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Fiji: Reforms Needed for Stability
Source: islandsbusiness.com
Source Date: Monday, November 19, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Thematic Website, Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement
Country: Fiji
Created: Nov 19, 2012

The Fijian government will not hesitate to review structures and relations that have been an impediment to economic growth, says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Awards in Sigatoka, Bainimarama said these impediments have fostered corruption, created an uneven playing field, cronyism and a jaundiced system.

He said the FNPF reform is one such initiative which despite being criticised by some economists and those who benefited from a skewered system managed to get international recognition and an award to FNPF as a leading superannuation fund.

Bainimarama said similarly, the Essential Industries Decree creates a rational approach to labour relations in identified critical economic sectors.

“Unreasonable and unrealistic labour relations do not help workers. The do not help employers, they do not help investment and they do not help families. In fact, they hurt them all as only a privileged few benefit from a skewered system whose long term objective is to protect those privileges,” said the Prime Ministe.r

He went to say that Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) was saved because his government made the appropriate decisions which included the application of the Essential Industries Decree to Air Pacific.

“Now our national airline has made a remarkable turnaround. Instead of closing down or cutting jobs as many airlines throughout the world have done, Air Pacific/Fiji Airways is buying a new aircraft.”

“It is rebranding and can add more routes. This will create more jobs for Fijians and will expand our ability to bring more tourists to our shores. All of this will lead to more growth in our economy. All of this has been done without a single job lost or exploitation of its workers,”

Meanwhile, Bainimarama says the Fiji’s government believes in hard work, not handouts and wants a strong partnership with the business community as it works to overcome economic challenges.

He said businesses need consistency from government when it comes to such things as land availability, access to labour, application of the law, the supply of raw materials and access to markets.

And as part of the government’s holistic approach to development, they have adopted a long term view to strive with progressive policies to consolidate Fiji’s strength as an exporting country.

“We have opened up new markets with our “Look North” policy which had launched a global diplomatic campaign to engage with all nations and we are promoting our goods and services with initiatives such as “Buy Fijian Made” campaign,” he said.

“We are also reforming the Civil Service to make it more responsive to the needs of business and we have to do a lot more to remove the frustrating red tape that often gets in the way of dealing with government.”

“We want the Civil Service to do what it is meant to do and that is to serve the people.”

The Prime Minister added that they have also introduced a range of incentives to assist export efforts and this includes zero rated duty on plant and machinery and competitive tax rates to encourage further investment.

He concluded by urging all citizens of the country to back the export sector as it not only promotes and sells Fijian made products and services but also keeps the nation’s foreign reserves healthy.
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