The Governor, Reserve Bank of Fiji

Chief Executive Officer, Fiji Revenue and Customs Services

The President, Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula Vinaka and Good Afternoon to you.

It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon and to be part of the 2019 Business Summit organised by Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is encouraging to see the continued cooperation and support that the Fijian Government gets from the Private Sector.

The Fijian Government strongly believes that a robust and resilient economy is built through collaboration between all players in the economy. I wish to reiterate that the private sector is the engine for economic growth, whilst the Fijian Government continues to provide an enabling and conducive environment, for businesses to flourish. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The vison for a modern and inclusive economy is embedded in the 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan, as well as, in the Fijian Trade Policy Framework. The vision of “Transforming Fiji”, maps out the way forward for Fiji to realise its full potential as a nation.

The Fijian Government is focused on having a dynamic private sector that invests, innovates and creates jobs. 

The investment figures have been very positive, with over 25% contribution to the GDP, and most importantly the private sector investments have contributed approximately 15 percent. The strong growth of investments has been made possible by the long term, forward-thinking and pro-growth policies of the Fijian Government. 

This means that investor confidence remains high, at the back of investment of substantial financial resources in infrastructure and capital projects, both by Government and private sector. These investments no doubt will generate returns translating into long-term sustainable and continued growth.

Furthermore, the RBF economic review has stated that investment has remained upbeat in 2018. On average new lending by commercial banks for investments increased by 1.4% to $565.7 million.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Whilst the Government continues to provide relevant infrastructure, it is equally important that the policy and regulatory framework are reviewed and revised to meet the market demands.

The current investment laws have not been able to be respond to the needs of a modern investment climate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this regard, the Fijian Government has engaged the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group to undertake the review of the investment policy law. The objective is the modernisation of our investment laws and regulations to be up to the international standards, as well as, adoptive of the global best practices. 

The approach is not amending the existing law but to replace it with a new and fresh law to include all investments, including domestic.

In addition, the Fijian Government is improving the way we serve all Fijians, through the use of technology. “DijitalFiji” is bringing the digital revolution to our country, our economy and into the lives of all Fijians. It will put essential services provided by the Fijian Government at the fingertips of ordinary Fijians anytime from anywhere.

The Ministry has undertaken the reforms of improve doing business processes. We are working in consultation with the Singaporean Government to review, redesign and harmonise building permits process and starting a business process. By the end of June 2019, an online information portal will be launched. This will provide all information in relation to building permits and starting a business. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The Fijian businesses are at the core of all our plans for development. Our efforts are to continue to strive to provide a stable and fair-trading environment, and to generate new business opportunities to boost our trade relations with our partners.

Fiji has graduated from a lower middle-income country to an upper middle-income country in a short span of time. We are steadily achieving our trade and economic aspirations. This has led to continued and consistent growth of the Fijian economy for almost a decade.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Fiji has taken the lead role in ensuring that our trade agreements advance our economic and sustainable development goals. We are achieving this through strengthening and deepening of the economic partnerships, as well as positioning Fiji as a more effective actor in the international arena.

Fiji has signed the newest version of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Free Trade Agreement. An agreement that stands as a culmination of the vision first set out by the leaders during Fiji’s chairmanship of the MSG in 2011.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The Fijian Government is currently working with the parties to the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) in reviewing the existing trade agreement to ensure it remains relevant in today’s time. This review will also enable greater intra-regional trade between Fiji and the other PICTA parties by simplifying the trading rules.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All Fijians benefit when our markets work well. Dynamic, efficient, fair and competitive markets for goods and services can increase the standard of living across Fiji. Competition is intrinsically linked to consumer protection and can drive private sector led sustainable development. It is therefore, a strategic priority of the Fijian Government to foster competition in the Fijian economy. 

Robust and effective competition policies can play a key role in contributing to further economic growth through improving efficiency and increase productivity. In this regard, the Fijian Government is currently in the process of updating Fiji’s competition policy and legislation. We hope to be able to bring this to you for the in depth consultations in the not-too distant future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I hope to hear from all of you, your ideas on how we can strengthen our relationship. To develop forward-looking policies to expand our development frontier and support the vision of Transforming Fiji. 

I also hope to hear more on the new and emerging growth sectors that we can nurture. How can we capitalise on our position as the hub of the Pacific. How can improved and new technology be embraced for the industry development and most importantly, how can we maximise productivity and focus on human capital development. Above all, how can we continue to grow our economy in a sustainable manner.

With these words, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the evening and I look forward meeting you all.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.