By Peni Komaisavai
Fiji’s Parliament has passed a government motion to borrow money by raising loans of US$65million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and US$35million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told parliament the loan would refinance a 2015 Global Bond which is due in October 2020.
The Bond was first issued in 2006, and was rolled over in 2011 and 2015.
The motion came under fire from Opposition leader Biman Prasad who criticised government for putting a heavy burden on Fiji’s future generation.
“The Government must take some blame, public debt always has a negative impact on economic growth, there is no such thing as sustainable debt, Government is putting a heavy burden on the future generations,” Prasad said.
“The fact is we are borrowing more, this is a reminder to the Government that you have brought this onto yourself, we had the opportunity to repay this loan three to four years but instead we are borrowing more.”
In his response, Sayed-Khaiyum accused the Opposition of misleading parliament.
“When you refinance a debt you do not increase the volume of the debt it just means that we are moving to another bank because it gives us a better interest rate,” he said.
He said the interest rate for the previous loan sat at about 6 % where as the current one sat at a little bit over 3%.
He said there was nothing wrong in trying to save Government about $15 million and that all loans made by the current Government had been for development purposes.
By Anish Chand
The National Federation Party has written a letter to the Speaker of the House, asking her to look into providing professional anger management counselling for Fiji First backbencher Howard Politini and all tthe NFP youth members.
This is related to an incident where two of the NFP Youth Wing volunteers were allegedly bullied and threatened by the FijiFirst MP Politini.
“The NFP will not tolerate any such thug-like behaviour towards any member of our party and we seek your guidance in the resolution of this appalling behaviour that does not bring dignity and decorum to your House,” wrote the NFP whip Prem Singh.
The NFP claims their youth members are now seriously traumatised.
“This incident occurred on Constitution Avenue, just outside the main entrance into the Parliament chambers, that would be classified as out of the Parliamentary Precincts, we advise your high office that we now have to involve the Fiji Police Force with an official complaint to ensure the safety of our young people,” Singh wrote.
“This is a clear symptom of trauma from bullying,” Singh added.
The NFP is asking the Speaker to act.
“We urge your office to look into providing professional anger management counselling [for] Hon Politini and all their youth members, with a genuine apology extended to our traumatised youth members, in the presence of a professional counsellor,” says the NFP Whip.
Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has said he will continue from where he left off in 1997 to ensure a constitution like the one his government enacted in 1997.
In a speech at University of Fiji's School of Law on Tuesday this week, the SODELPA Leader said he remained confident and hopeful that “our country will return to genuine democracy and constitutional legality and legitimacy."
He also outlined what his vision was for Fiji.
“In the event SODELPA, the party that I have been entrusted to lead, wins the majority number of seats in parliament in the 2018 general elections, I shall resume the work that Hon Jai Ram Reddy and I started in the 1997 constitution. And this is to develop in full consultation with the people of Fiji, and with an all-parties consensus decision in parliament for a review of the 2013 Fiji constitution,” he said.
"The purpose of such a review will be ensure that the constitution genuinely reflects the wishes and the aspirations of “We the people of Fiji.”
He also elaborated why he was opposed to the usage of “Fijian” as the common name.
“For an indigenous iTaukei, to be called a “Fijian” means much more than being a citizen of Fiji. It means being registered in the iVola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) (Fijian registry) as a member of a customary landowning mataqali (clan). It is for this reason, that it has been very hard for many iTaukei to understand the Bainimarama regime’s rationale for unilaterally appropriating the name “Fijian” for use as the common name of all Fiji citizens,” he said.
Tourism Fiji’s global brand agency, Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand says it was not involved in the production of the promotional video that caused an uproar in Fiji over the wrong translation of Fijian words.
In a response to Island Business queries, Head of PR, Social & Business Development for Saatchi & Saatchi, Isobel Kerr-Newell said “Saatchi & Saatchi was not involved with this piece of work.”
She referred further queries to Tourism Fiji and Island Business has sought additional comments from Tourism Fiji in light of this clarification.
Our query includes asking Tourism Fiji to disclose the producer of the video and whether he or she has been been reprimanded over the gaffe.
In a statement released on Wednesday this week, Tourism Fiji Chief Executive Officer Matt Stoeckel has apologised.
“Tourism Fiji takes full responsibility for the error and sincerely regrets any offence this post may have caused our fellow Fijians. We take this situation very seriously and are reviewing our internal processes to ensure this does not happen again.” he said
A fully-funded agency of the Fijian Government, Tourism Fiji operates on an annual grant of between $30 to $40 (US$14.5m - US$19.4m) million. It is headquartered in Nadi, close to Nadi International Airport on the west coast of Fiji’s main island.
By MERESEINI MARAU - TOTOKA
The Fijian Government will set up a new credit bureau by next year to replace a privately owned data bureau which the government closed down in 2016.
This was a key recommendation of a visiting team from the International Monetary Fund and details of their recommendations were released as a press conference in Suva today by IMF team leader Pablo Lopez Murphy.
Lopez and his three member team were in the country for two weeks since the end of November to carry out their annual country surveillance commonly known as Article IV in the IMF vocabs.
From their preliminary findings, Lopez and his team believed there was significant room to improve Fiji's economy.
He said that one way of achieving this is to establish a credit bureau, which they believe was a key piece in the financial infrastructure.
"Remember there was a data bureau that was shut down in 2016, we think it's important to open a new one."
"This institution plays an important role and government is working on that," he said.
"Hopefully in 2018, there is concrete news on that one."
"This is a key measure in improving business environment."
Lopez said the re-introduction of the credit bureau would allow the lenders to know who has a good credit record and who hasn’t.
"That allows to cover better risk management, the process of financial inter mediation will be less risky."
"That would facilitate the growth, which makes the lending business less risky."
The IMF team were in Nadi and Suva where they met private sector and government representatives.
Also part of the team was Fiji’s representative to the IMF- Lanieta Rauqeuqe.
While the new credit bureau will be set up and owned by the government, the defunct Data Bureau Limited began operations in 2001, and was an initiative of a group of financial institutions and insurance companies. It was forced by the Fiji Government to close down after it introduced and passed legislation in parliament.
That Data Bureau was the leading provider of credit historical information on individual and businesses in the Pacific region.
It was a Fiji company established by a number of leading financial institutions and established Credit Bureau operations in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu and hopefully in Samoa before the end of 2011.
Those Credit Bureaus were not linked in anyway, they were stand alone.
According to that company, their principal business was the operation of a Credit Bureau database where members were able to access the credit history and identify details of their customers. The Credit Bureau also assisted their members with debt collection when defaulting debtors were listed on the Credit Bureau.
That information was available to their members through a sophisticated but user friendly software system accessed through the internet.
The Data Bureau supplied it’s members with information that allowed them to make informed credit and business decisions.