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Fiji makes impressive progress

The performance of the Fijian economy has surpassed all expectations, and has certainly raised eyebrows in the Western world, notably New Zealand, Australia, UK and US, which were quick to impose sanctions on the Interim Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and his Government.

There are still differing opinions even among Indo-Fijians on the bona fides of Mr Bainimarama but a majority of Fijians living outside their homeland believe that the change has been for the better.

Political issues aside, the Fijian economy has registered impressive progress over the years. According to Mr Bainimarama, the economy grew by 2.2% in 2012 (up from 1.9% in 2011 and 0.1% in 2010) with the expected rate of growth in 2013 and 2014 placed respectively at 3.6% and 3%.

A number of reports appear under Fijilink in this issue.

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside said that growth in 2013 was projected to be broad-based with positive contributions from all the sectors, except for the mining and quarrying sector.

The main drivers for the upward revision in growth in 2013 were due to better-than-expected performances in the wholesale & retail trade; communications; construction and the transport & storage sectors.

According to Mr Whiteside, the revised growth projection reflected the growing sense of optimism in the economy and was consistent with the strong growth in various partial indicators.

“These included net Value Added Tax collections, inward personal remittances, domestic cement sales and borrowing by the private sector for consumption and investment purposes. This is further validated by the Bank’s Business Expectations and Retail Sales Surveys and direct feedback from a wide cross section of industries and sectors,” he said.

The fact that the Australian and New Zealand governments do not see eye-to-eye with their counterpart in Suva and the fact that most Fijian ministers and government officials are still not allowed to travel to these two countries (this is gradually changing) did not matter. Everyone in Fiji, including Mr Bainimarama, is focused on one objective: to take Fiji forward, and accentuate economic and social development.

Undoubtedly, there are issues and challenges that confront this small Island nation of about 860,000 people (December 21012 estimate). Infrastructure is basic and poor, a large number of Fijians live in poverty, healthcare is less than adequate and literacy levels need to be lifted. But these are problems that confront every nation on earth.

Ensuring equality to all is an integral part of Fiji’s new Constitution, which will be unveiled this month, will allow time for people to understand their rights and responsibilities and be ready for the general election due in September 2014.

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