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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Prime Minister's commitment to promote Investment and Economic Growth

This is an extract from Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase's speech in Parliament on Friday, 16 June 2006.

"Although I have reduced some of my ministerial responsibilities, I have decided to take on direct responsibility for promoting investment. This brings into my portfolio the Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau, The Fiji Audio Visual Commission and the Fiji Investment Corporation.

As a point of clarification, I should explain that as Minister responsible for investment, my role will be connected specifically to policies and investment promotion in Fiji and abroad. I intend to exploit every opportunity I can to sell Fiji as an attractive centre for investors. I have been discussing this with my colleague, the Honorable Minister for Commerce & Industry. She will continue to have responsibility for policy implementation, after approval by Cabinet.

Her Ministry will be responsible, along with other Ministries and Departments and the FTIB, for the further streamlining of the investment approvals process. Our progress so far on this has been good.

But we need to do more to remove red tape. We must never forget that we are competing for the foreign investment dollar with other countries which often offer wider and more lucrative opportunities.

The Cabinet subcommittee on investment, which I chair, will continue.

The inclusion of Ministers from the labor Party will give us added investment momentum. Investors will have that extra degree of confidence about support for their projects, not only within Cabinet, but within Parliament as well.

We were encouraged last year when our investment reforms helped us to win recognition in a survey by the World Bank. It rated Fiji 34th out of 155 countries for ease of doing business.

The Minister of Finance and National Planning has given us an overview of the economy, which tells us the fundamentals are sound. But there is a pressing need to expand exports. More investment is required to accomplish this.

We have managed to increase investment from about 10% of GDP to some 17% of GDP. Our aim is to continue to improve investment levels till they reach at least 25% of GDP.

Our target for economic growth is for a minimum of 5% of GDP. I still believe, however, that we can eventually reach 8%.

Those who think we are setting our goals too high should bear in mind that we actually accomplished growth of over 5% in 2004.

Government constantly monitors the investment situation. Now that the elections are over and the Government is in place, we have every reason to expect that more investment will begin to flow.

We are gathering pace in our public sector reform initiatives with the aim of corporatising or privatising Government activities and organisations engaged in activities best left to the private sector."

Note from GV : Foreign investors wishing to set up business or invest in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

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