Fiji has embarked on several economic and social development projects, the benefits of which will be available to all Fijians and international visitors and expatriate community, a Senior Minister of the Bainimarama government has said.
Premila Kumar, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism said that Fiji is no longer an isolated island economy but an integrated hub of economic development.
“This transformation has brought about unprecedented benefits for our country. It has created investment opportunities, trade and economic partnerships, new jobs and continued development of our infrastructure,” she said.
Prime Minister’s Awards
Ms Kumar was speaking at the launch of the Prime Minister’s International Business Awards on Friday, June 28, 2019 at Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
She said that the Awards, now in their 27th year, have grown in significance among the business community, with a focus on small and medium enterprises and young entrepreneurs.
Supported by ‘Investment Fiji’ of her Ministry, the Awards recognise and applaud innovative and creative business ideas.
“We strongly believe that the contribution of each sector or business to the economy, despite size, nature and markets needs to be recognised. The Awards Programme, which has strict and transparent criteria, sets a benchmark of excellence, giving that additional push to local businesses to be more competitive and more importantly innovative,” she said.
Ms Kumar encourages small businesses, young entrepreneurs, companies that have demonstrated remarkable success in the Fijian economy, to apply for the Awards.
According to her, the government has capitalised on the existing and emerging opportunities and created a conducive environment for investment, supported by favourable market conditions and an educated and skilled workforce.
“Investor confidence remains high with total investments maintaining contribution to the GDP of around 25%. A total of 134 projects, foreign and local, valued at F$872.45 million were implemented during the period covering August 2018 and April 2019. This is expected to create 3,575 employment opportunities for Fijians.,” she said.
She said that the 2019 Budget has a number of incentives for emerging and existing businesses in the Tourism, Manufacturing, Transportation, Housing, Retirement Villages and Aged Care, ICT, Research & Development, Waste Recycling and the Audio Visual sectors.
Ms Kumar, who is also Minister of Housing, Local Government and Community Development, met in Suva earlier this week Dr Liu Thai Ker, Chairman of Morrow Architects and Planners and discussed with him plans to launch metropolitan and town planning projects.
Known as ‘Father of Urban Planning,’ Dr Liu has been engaged by the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to spearhead Fiji’s ‘Master Planning Project’ for Greater Suva, Nadi and Lautoka.
Online Business Platform
“We are working in consultation with the Singaporean Government to review, redesign and harmonise the building permits and starting a business processes. We will launch in July 2019 ‘bizFiji,’ an online information portal to provide information on building permits and starting up a business all on a single platform.
“The Government is cognisant of the changing global landscape and we are undertaking a number of reforms of the doing business processes and the investment legal framework to ensure that investment remain robust. Our Investment Policy Statement defines the government’s focus on principles and objectives of investments,” she said.
Investment Law review
Ms Kumar said that the government is reviewing the Investment Law to enable better and faster response to the needs of the investors and create a modern investment climate.
In addition, we will be taking the construction permit approval processes entirely online, with extensive work scheduled in the next financial year to prepare for the transition.
She promised an extensive review of business processes and implementation of reforms that will allow for immediate results for the benefits for all entrepreneurs.
“The Government’s Five-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan continues to transform Fiji into a modern, progressive and vibrant society. Increasing private sector investment and job creation is a key objective of the Plan.
“Fiji’s low and business-friendly tax regime and focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) has created income-generating opportunities for Fijians and promoted exports and foreign exchange flows,” Ms Kumar said.
Premila Kumar with Investment Fiji Chairman Truman Bradley at the launch of the 27th Annual Prime Minister’s International Business Awards in Suva on Friday, June 28, 2019 (Picture from Facebook)