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Friday, June 16, 2006

National reserves a worry

nForeign reserves stood at F$400 million, equivalent to 3 months of imports. At the end of last year, it was F$500 million or enough to cover 4 and a half months of imports.

The situation has worried the Suva Chamber of Commerce which said there was a need to cut imports to reduce the gap between inflows and outflows. It said the country was importing too many basic items such as tinned fish, rice, biscuits, oil, fruits and vegetables that should be sourced locally.

Chamber president, Dr Nur Bano Ali, said that this was made possible because of the low tariff rates on imported food items which made local production price prohibitive and unsuitable as alternatives to cheap imported products. She said Government should adopt a focussed approach to reduce food imports and consumables in order to fix the trade imbalance and the foreign reserves position.

The Chamber has urged Government to embark on a national import reduction/substitution strategy.


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