The Permanent Secretaries
The Board Members of Fiji Ports Corporation Limited
The Regional Director, ADB
Chief Executive Officer, Fiji Ports Corporation Limited
Representatives from Government Ministries/Departments
Representatives from Development Partners
Representatives from Private Sector
The Consultant, Royal HaskoningDHV
And Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to all.
First of all, thank you for inviting me as a Chief Guest for the opening remarks for Suva Port Strategic Review – Site Selection Workshop. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics was hoping to here this morning for this important workshop but unfortunately, he is away in North attending an important event.
This workshop signifies the effort and work undertaken by the Fijian Government and the Asian Development Bank with regard to the strategic review of maritime operations to identify a new site to relocate Suva Port (the port) or shifting some key operations to a new location.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the ADB has provided assistance to the government in the maritime sector since 1979, when the first loan was approved for the port rehabilitation for containerized cargo. In the 1990s, the Government anticipated the future capacity constraints at the existing Suva port location and completed several studies during the late 1990s and 2000s analyzing various options and plans for its relocation.
In 2002, the ADB provided a loan of $16.8 million to improve the Suva and Lautoka Ports. In December 2015, ADB approved technical assistance to prepare a Ports Development Masterplan for Fiji which confirmed that the port will need to be relocated because of aging infrastructure and capacity constraints.
In August 2020 through the request from the Government, the Royal HaskoningDHV, a Australian company was engaged by ADB to undertake the maritime sector review and to identify a preferred site for the relocation of the Suva Port. The main objective of the study is to identify a new site to relocate some (or if not all) of Suva Port’s key operations, mitigating existing constraints and maximising Fiji’s potential for economic development over the next 30 years and prepare the groundwork for the next stage of the project.
I note that some of the key issues facing Suva Port are: structural condition/capacity and cost to maintain, capacity limitations, and location which contributes to congestion, encroachment, and limited options for expansion.
The Suva Port is becoming too small for the amount of activities happening and thus the need for the relocation to a new site.
If these issues remain unaddressed, this may limit the potential for growth and economic development in Fiji.
At this stage, I would like to commend and thank ADB for coming on board and providing assistance to the Government. Port development and having the port at the right place is very important. Ports are catalysts for economic development or considered as “funnels” to economic development as they enable trade and support supply chains. The impacts of port infrastructure investments are expected to positively influence port throughput effects on local economic development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Coalition Government had successfully delivered the very first National Budget of the Coalition Government and have received very positive feedback. The national budget focussed on three key dimensions on building fiscal sustainability, improving the provision of public services and strengthening social protection. The budget had some major tax reforms which has permanently added close to $600 million in additional revenues (approx. 5% of GDP). We know it will be tough for some and that’s why we have introduced a few expenditure support measures to help the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
We also had a successful National Economic Summit in April 2023 where key stakeholders including private sector, trade unions, academia, civil society organizations, women’s groups, youth organizations, development partners and the general public participated in a free and open dialogue process which will help to shape national priorities for inclusive and sustainable development. 
We strongly believe that private sector led economic rejuvenation is an important pillar to ensure sustainable economic growth which is critical to put the debt to GDP ratio on a consistent downward path, complementing the planned fiscal deficit reductions. However, this requires a number of structural reforms to ensure private sector growth and development is supported.
With the majority of trade now carried by sea, ports are critical gateway infrastructure which connect an entire region and its inland transportation network to the international market. Fiji is also the link to the other Pacific Island countries and becoming a hub in the Pacific. So, developing strong, well-functioning maritime transport infrastructure is a key element of economic growth for country like Fiji. The private sector will play an important role in the development of the ports infrastructure. Public-private partnership in ports have become a means to manage port operations more effectively, as well as to develop and construct new port infrastructure.
I have been informed that in January 2021, a long listing workshop was held where the method/criteria of determining the ‘’short-listed’’ sites were presented. A total of six (6) site(s) were “long-listed” which are as follows:
1. Existing Suva Port;
2. Rokobili;
3. Draunibota;
4. Navua;
5. Lautoka; and
6. Momi Bay.
The long-listed sites were determined through an analysis/assessment, and I gather that the consultants this morning will be presenting more on this and how the short-listed sites were chosen.
Ladies and gentlemen, the use multicriteria analysis for the shortlisting of sites shows that the site that will be selected is based on certain factors and reasons. It is not based on anybody’s preference or because somebody wants the port to move to a certain location. The Multi-Criteria Analysis is used to identify and compare different policy options by assessing their effects, performance, impacts, and trade-offs and provides a systematic approach for supporting complex decisions according to pre-determined criteria and objectives. I will let the consultant to present and discuss more on this during the latter part of the workshop today.
The Government is also moving in the similar direction. In April 2023, the Cabinet had approved new guidelines and procedures for capital projects under the Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP). The intention is to strengthen the front-end stages of preparing, appraising, evaluating, and approving public investment projects.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the preparation of the Guidelines has highlighted the need for more effective and efficient allocating of scarce public investment funds to optimise development outcomes for the people of Fiji. Strengthening front-end stages of preparing, appraising, evaluating and approving public investment projects will contribute to achieving value for money and adequate returns on investments. All capitals will go through the 2-stage assessment which includes similar assessment as multi-criteria assessment to be considered for government finding. The Ministry of Finance has already started the roll out with capacity building trainings planned for the nine (9) ministries / departments / agencies.
With the MCA, the consultants have further shortlisted three (3) sites which is proposed for relocation of Suva Port commercial cargo handling: Rokobili, Draunibota, and Navua. You will be provided an opportunity during the workshop to provide your views and inputs on the shortlisted sites.
Once a site is selected, Government will work on the way forward on the options for the implementation of the project which will include a detailed feasibility and environmental study.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Government is looking at a port that may be a one stop shop which will accommodate all container ships, fishing vessels and also ship building. The existing Suva Port then can be essentially used for cruise liners. The new port will also allow Fiji Ports Corporation Limited to receive larger vessels with higher volumes.
I would like to thank the Project Steering Committee for inviting me to deliver the opening remarks at this important workshop and wish all participants a very best of luck and productive discussions during the workshop today.
I also look forward for the completion of this study ana again thank ADB for all the support to date.
Thank you, Vinaka Vaka Levu and Dhaanyavaad.