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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Westpac Fiji increases lending rates from today

Westpac Banking Corporation, Fiji, will today increase its lending rates by 1% - a second rate increase this year.

Westpac's Chief Manager in Fiji, David Evans, said that increase in interest rates was inevitable, given the Reserve Bank of Fiji's decision to lift official interest rates and tighten monetary policy to slow the growth in consumer spending.

"The continued tightening of system liquidity and monetary policy of the RBF and the resultant continued increase in levels of deposit rates has forced the bank to increase the lending base rates for business and consumer lending", according to the bank.

The RBF had increased official interest rates from 2.25% to 3.25% earlier this year.

The bank said that despite the fact that lending rates would increase, Westpac's deposit rates provided people an opportunity to obtain greater returns for their savings.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Shipbuilder seeks business partner

Government-owned shipbuilding company, Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries Limited, is seeking a business partner to redevelop its Suva foreshore and business.

The Ministry of Public Enterprises said that the company's short term goal was to find a partner and outsource some of its engineering, painting and ship preparation services in order to develop its service facilities.

The company said facilities at its foreshore property were outdated and needed revamping.

Tonnage capacity at the facility needs to be increased from 1,000 to 4,000 tonnes in order to develop a good regional port and be able to cater for large ships.

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 and for related advice. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings announces a second dividend payment this year

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) has announced a second dividend payment this year with a payout of three cents per share after making a profit of F$34.9 million for the financial year to 31 March 2006.

Profits rose from F$24.5 million which was made in the 2005 financial year. The increase was achieved on the bank of a 6.9% increase in sales revenue and a reduction in operating expenses.

The dividend payment is expected to be made after the payout proposal is approved at ATH's AGM in August. The total dividend payment will be F$12.7 million and will bring total dividend payments this year to F$25.3 million.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

F$20 million in mahogany sales expected this year

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

The new Fiji Hardwood Corporation is expected to deliver F$20 million in mahogany sales in the company's first full year of production.

The company has a target of 90,000 cubic meters of mahogany logs, which roughly translates into 45,000 cubic meters of timer or more than F$20 million in annual revenue, according to the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

Export of the timber is made to Australia, New Zealand, South and North America with the good demand there. The company is working on improving timber production and value adding processes.

Most of the mahogany forests are contained on native Fijian land.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans and to facilitate business loans for them. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Fiji National Provident Fund pays increased dividends to members

A 6.5% interest dividend will be paid to members by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) to June 2006. This is an increase from 6.25% which was paid last year.

Fund board chairman, Anare Jale, said the future looked positive for FNPF and members as the Fund continued to diversify its investment portfolio.

The increase in interest is attributed to the improved returns earned from investments.

Note from GV : It is expected that most investments will pay a higher return this year as a result of the interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the implications of that in the financial system.

Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

F$8.8 million boost for sugar industry

Fiji will receive about F$8.8 million from the European Union to help the sugar industry adjust to the reduction of preferential sugar prices from European markets. The funds will help revitalise the industry.

The Finance Ministry is currently working out how the funds will be distributed.

The Fiji Sugar Corporation has brought in new machinery that would help improve efficiency and productivity.

The Prime Minister, who is the Minister responsible for Sugar, was pleased with the state of progress towards restructure of the industry when he visited the Lautoka sugar mill yesterday.

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. We provide other business advisory services as well. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fiji as a Pacific hub

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

A stable exchange rate, low and stable inflation and competitive interest rates are some of the things Fiji needs to consolidate on its advantages as an infrastructure, commercial and knowledge hub of the Pacific. This was suggested by Australian National University academic Doctor Satish Chand, in a paper presented at a workshop in Vuda on Globalisation : Challenges to Fiji's Diplomacy.

In a paper titled Regionalism : an Opportunity or an Imposition, Dr Chand said that on the microeconomic front, it was important to maintain law and order, improve long-term and secure access to land, maintain policy stability and improve access to basic services such as primary health care and education.

"Fiji is extremely well positioned, as the geographical, infrastructure, and knowledge hub of the islands of the Pacific, to have a pivotal role in regional integration. No other island nation comes even close, as an alternative to Fiji on this", Dr Chand said.

Dr Chand said Fiji was strategically placed, en route to North America and Asia from Australian and New Zealand to serve as the hub of the Pacific. He said Nadi had for decades, served as an international hub for regional aviation while Lautoka and Suva had done the same for regional shipping. The Southern Cross cable, which links Australia and New Zealand with the rest of the world, passes through Fiji.

"These locational advantages are here to stay. Many of the smaller island neighbours of Fiji depend on this hub for trade, commerce and diplomatic links. Fiji is close to being indispensable for regional trade on these considerations alone", Dr Chand said.

He added that Nadi had the region's best international airport and accommodation, ground transport and telecommunications services. He said Suva was home to several international organisations and major business houses. Dr Chand said there was potential for Nadi to grow further as Pacific's tourism hub and Suva as its commercial hub.

He said Suva had a long history of being the hub for tertiary education for the island Pacific but the potential for further growth of this sector remained to be fully exploited.

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. We provide other business advisory services as well. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rural banking grows

Rural banking is an approach to provide financial literacy training to the community, according to the ANZ Banking Group. ANZ said rural banking in Fiji had grown tremendously and this would help agricultural farmers in seeking loans from the bank once they have savings.

The bank said that rural banking had helped it in building relationships within the community. and that it was about providing basic financial services to people who do not have access.

ANZ said that its Pacific business is in a strong position with its strength being a consequence of loyal customers and the strong partnerships it had developed throughout the Pacific.

The bank acknowledged that critical to its future success is continued growth and development and an obligation to their countries, customers and communities to continue to build a sustainable business for the long term.

In the near future, the bank said that its strategy would be to support innovation, increase employment opportunities, increase investment, increase productivity and building higher levels of community support.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans and to facilitate business loans for them. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Fiji tourism doing well according to Academic

Pacific island countries are coping well with competition on the world market despite increasing globalisation, says Charles Salmon of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Hawaii, speaking at a public lecture at the University of the South Pacific last Friday.

Mr Salmon commended Fiji for doing well in the tourism industry but he felt that the country was capable of producing better results.

He said while Fiji and Pacific countries had progressed in terms of democracy, it was inevitably slow and not as fast as people expected it.

On terrorism and trafficking, Mr Salmon expressed surprise at the level of awareness on such issues.

He also said that there was concern by people about governance, transparency, unemployment, sustainable energy and the environment.

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. We provide other business advisory services as well. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Garment expert tells the way

Increasing productivity level in the garment industry will guarantee the Australian Government's commitment to open its market to Fiji, says Philip Levy, an Australian garment expert.

The comment was made as talks to change the rules of origin requirements in the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) is to start in August. The SPARTECA review is expected to relax rules of origin requirements that denied the entry of Fiji textile, clothing and footwear products into Australia.

Mr Levy said that increasing productivity was one of the conditions the Australian Government wants Fiji garment manufacturers to achieve in exchange for access to their lucrative markets. He said the Australian Government wanted to see Fiji's garment industry help itself become more competitive without continually calling for further major concessions to SPARTECA.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Other appropriate incentives required to encourage investment rather than tax alone

A pure flat taxation regime without appropriate investment incentives is not the right model for Fiji, says Finance Minister, Ratu Jone Kubuabola. The Minister said that the country still had huge development challenges which needed to be addressed.

The Minister said that Fiji needed to increase the capacity of underdeveloped rural areas which had the potential to significantly contribute to economic growth. He said this was not possible unless appropriate incentive systems were in place to bolster investment in these areas.

The Minister added that Fiji needed to increase its export base, both on commodities and services, to strengthen the country's external and economic positions with these being facilitated through focused and performance-based incentives.

The Finance Minister said that like any other taxation systems, Fiji's was not perfect and should always go through continuous refinements. The last taxation review was 2 years ago with some recommendations from the review gradually built into the country's taxation system as others follow.

Note from GV : Foreign investors that wish to invest or set up business in Fiji should note that there are various incentives depending on the industry they wish to invest or set up business in. For more information, you can visit the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau's website at www.ftib.org.fj. If you require assistance regarding the procurement of appropriate licences, permits and approvals, our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, can assist you. Our telephone contact is +679 3396427 or +679 9921427 and our e-mail is gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Credit Corporation pays the highest rates for retail term deposits

In an environment contributed to by the recent interest rates hike by the Reserve Bank of Fiji, there has been much activity in deposit interest rates in the financial markets in Fiji. The latest has seen an increase in retail term deposit rates by Credit Corporation to 6.75% for 1 year TDs. The second highest rate is currently charged by Home Finance Corporation of 6.5%. The commercial banks pay below 6% for TDs of 12 months tenure. Note that the above rates are for retail deposits, financial institutions offer higher rates for wholesale deposits of more than F$100,000.00. Deposits are only one form of investment in the money and capital markets. There are other instruments available which investors may consider. If you need assistance and advice on where and how to place your investments in the money and capital markets in Fiji, we can help you. Our principal, Gilbert Veisamasama Jr is an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority in Fiji. Contact us on Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tourism on track to deliver promise

The tourism industry is on track to become a billion dollar industry by 2007, according to the Fiji Visitors Bureau.

The Bureau said Fiji had an average annual growth rate of 12% for visitor arrivals from its popular markets in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

Provisional statistics on visitor arrivals in 2005 stated that almost 550,000 international holiday makers came to Fiji and the Bureau said that this was expected to increase to 600,000 in 2007.

The Bureau added that an unrivalled growth in new inventory and a boom in international investment which were happening were important factors in achieving the tourism industry's objectives.

Currently there was about F$700 million worth of foreign investment in new tourism developments and several major tourism projects were now on-line by investors who had been encouraged by the positive growth of tourist arrivals.

With several big brand hotels opening in 2006 and 2007, the Bureau said there would be sufficient infrastructure in the country to enable the massive growth projected. A snapshot of properties under development include a Hilton Hotel, The Westin Hotel, Radisson Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, JW Marriott and an Intercontinental, to name a few.

Every new hotel has a conference facility which will establish Fiji as a serious contender for Australia, New Zealand and other international markets in the area of hosting conferences and meetings.

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. We provide other business advisory services as well. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Local firms to finish Kings Road

Two local firms will finish the reconstruction and tarsealing of the Kings Road. The work had been done earlier by a Chinese company which did not complete the project. Completion of the project would see to a full tarsealed road going right throughout the country with currently the only stretch left being between Korovou and Rakiraki. The tarsealed road will also be a good precursor to further developments around the Rakiraki area - an area whose tourism potential is expected to pick up. The project is to be completed in 2008.

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.

Cabinet approves water corporatisation

Corporatisation of the Department of Water and Sewerage has been approved by Cabinet with the department declared a reorganisation entity under the Public Enterprise Act 1996.

The process will involve setting the structural, governance and legal framework appropriate for corporatisation. This means that the department will become a commercial statutory authority which will be in line with the Strategic Development Plan 2003 - 2005 on Corporatisation of the Water and Sewerage Department.

The primary reform objective is to create a greater focus on commercial business and customer oriented services and improvements in the effective delivery of services to the public.

Consultants from the Asian Development Bank will undertake the initial restructure process under the ADB Technical Assistance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Government wants to sell Fiji TV shares

Government has sought Parliament's approval to sell its Fiji TV shares (which is around 14%of the share portfolio and worth about F$7.9 million dollars). The motion was introduced in Parliament yesterday by the Finance Minister.

The Minister said Government was divesting from Fiji TV because the industry was now driven by the commercial sector. Its intention to sell the shares were with the objective to maximise revenue and wider participation of the public in buying shares.

Being regulator of many industries, including that of television, Government intends not to hold interests in such company as Fiji TV so as to be free of conflict of interest.

The Minister said that Fiji TV had enjoyed a monopolistic position in the television industry and the company now was well established and it had the capacity to continue to perform well if competition is introduced.

Fiji TV has recorded over 400% increase in pre-tax profit over the past five years. The company operates on a 12 year exclusive licence and has a 15 year tax exemption which expires in July 2009. The company is also exempted from Income Tax.

The Minister said that Government was going to open up the television industry and had already granted a TV broadcasting licence to Ba Provincial Council Holdings Limited on behalf of the Pacific Broadcasting Services.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our principal, Gilbert Veisamasama Jr, is an Investment Advisor licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Construction and Tourism Sectors - two booming sectors - lack skilled labour

Taken from a Fiji TV News Item.

The construction and tourism sectors remains two of the key areas still desperately short of skilled local staff. A training needs survey now underway by the Training and Productivity Authority (TPAF) will attempt to establish the skills gaps in other sectors of the economy.

Gaps which TPAF says has resulted in the increasing number of expatriates now being given the green light to come and work here. They are the future of our workforce.

It's a hands-on approach which the training and productivity authority says is now facing a shortage. All employers are now being told to help release details of who and how much they are investing in upskilling their workers.

Two key sectors already identified as in desperate need of local skills is tourism and construction. In the Nadi coast area where at least three major hotel projects are ongoing, skills training has been anticipated.

Identifying skills gaps in the economy will mean getting detailed feedback from all employers. TPAF like other educational institutions remain adament that its better to have a fully qualified worforce in demand, than to have a skills shortage with nothing to offer economically.

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.

Fiji-France bilateral talks at end of month

Taken from a Fiji TV News Item.

The Foreign Affairs minister Kaliopate Tavola will replace Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase at a summit in France at the end of this month. Tavola leaves for France next weekend for the Summit that aims to strengthen bilateral trade and diplomatic relations between the two countries and the region. The meeting with French President Jacque Chirac, Tavola says, will be significant given France's presence in the region through its island territories.

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.

Canada work scheme likely

Fiji's High Commissioner to Canada is exploring the possibility of a guest workers program there for fruit pickers and caregivers. The High Commissioner is expected to visit Surrey, British Columbia, this week and is expected to explore opportunities for partnership with the province, including a guest workers scheme.

Other trade issues for discussion include the possibility of lifting of a ban on the sale of kava in Canada. The ban was put in place earlier after fears that kava consumption caused liver diseases. This has been refuted by research undertaken globally recently.

World Bank-IMF FSAP Assessment of Fiji this year

The Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) assessment done jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be conducted this year after an initial mission visit to Fiji last year. In its 2005 Annual Report, the Reserve Bank of Fiji said that work would intensify with the main visit of the FSAP team scheduled for this year. The comprehensive assessment would help strengthen Fiji's financial system and identify areas where improvement might be required.

In the same report, the Reserve Bank of Fiji said that it will issue F$100 notes from 2007. The decision comes after the Reserve Bank completed a currency review and finalised a new structure and designs for the new note.

For more information, please visit the Reserve Bank's website on http://www.reservebank.gov.fj.

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.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Reserve Bank projects economic growth for 2006 at 2.7%

The Reserve Bank of Fiji has projected economic growth for 2006 at 2.7% after revised growth projections for 2005 was 1.5%, the Reserve Bank's latest Quarterly Review for March 2006. The following sectors are expected to be the main drivers of growth this year :
  • transport and communications;
  • agriculture, forestry, fishing & subsistence;
  • community, social & personal services.
In 2005, the following sectors drove economic growth :
  • building and construction;
  • wholesale and retail trade;
  • hotels & restaurants;
  • finance, insurance, real estate and business services.
Partial indicators of consumer spending indicate that consumption remained firm into the first quarter of the year. In addition, currency in circulation and lending for consumption purposes also showed healthy growth over the same period. Consumption activity is also being supported by rising incomes.

The tourism industry continued its robust performance as the latest official estimates indicate a new record year for visitor arrivals in 2005. In the years ahead, growth in the tourism industry will be supported by increased room inventory and a rise in inbound flights.

Investment levels also noted a gradual pick up, supported by buoyant activities in the building and construction sector. In addition, output in copra, fishing, timber and electricity industries rose on an annual basis during the review quarter.

However, production in the mining and quarrying and clothing and footwear sectors remained weak.

Inflation remained moderate during the quarter. Labour market conditions improve over the review quarter as suggested by partial indicators.

Following the 50 basis point hike in October, the Reserve Bank raised its policy indicator rate by a further 100 basis points in February 2006 to 3.25%.

In implementing this recent change, the Bank noted that the environment had not changed since the previous policy decision. Consumption was still strong supported by strong credit growth and oil prices remained high, factors which contributed to a growing imports bill. The Bank considered this trend unsustainable given the continuing underperformance of the exports sector.

This led to the further interest rate rise to reign in credit expansion and protect Fiji's overall macroeconomic stability.

In March 2006, the Reserve Bank raised the Statutory Reserve Deposit ratio for commercial banks from 5% to 7% of a bank's deposits base. This was effective from 8 May.

The minimum lending rate was also increased from 50 basis points to 100 basis points above the policy indicator rate. The minimum lending rate denotes the rate a bank pays for borrowing funds from the Reserve Bank to meet any shortfalls it may have on a daily basis, after having first resorted to the interbank market.

The Bank will continue to monitor developments in the economy over the coming months and align monetary policy accordingly.

Source : Reserve Bank of Fiji, Quarterly Review, March 2006.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Yaqara lease given to two US companies

Two United States companies will jointly invest F$25 million to lease Yaqara Pastoral Company Limited for 10 years. Roll International and Harris Ranch were among nine local and overseas bidders who had initially expressed their interest in the project.

The Ministry of Public Enterprises said the joint venture was determined to create a market brand for Yaqara beef and crops by taking advantage of their existing marketing network both in the USA as well as internationally.

With respect to involving landowners in the venture, the parties have expressed a desire to consider integration as well as collaboration in production. This will include training of farmers and students interested in cattle ranching as well as involve farmers to grown and supply to the joint venture.

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.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Real Estate Registrar to set prices for real estate agents

A Registrar of Real Estate Agents will be established to prescribe fees and charges that real estate businesses should charge.

To be covered in a Real Estate Bill, the move is expected to bring some form of order into the real estate industry, which has been operating without any regulations.

Concerns have been raised in the past about the dishonest and unethical practices of the real estate industries. Allegations raised against the real estate industry vary from how it inflates land and housing prices and in selling land parcels and houses without the consent of landowners or through loopholes.

One concern was the leasing of land or houses over the Internet where money exchange was not taxed.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our principal, Gilbert Veisamasama Jr, is a Investment Advisor licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

State targets F$300 million grant

Government intends to secure a F$300 million grant from the Asian Development Bank for Rural and Outer Island (ROI) projects. A steering committee has been set up by the Ministry of Agriculture to pursue the substantial grant, which it hopes to secure by the end of the year.

The money is earmarked for developing infrastructure and improving transportation and storage facilities. Government said the funds would be used to develop ports in outer islands and jetty's opening up market accessibility locally and overseas.

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.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Savings culture vital

Instilling a savings culture by setting up a savings scheme for your people is an important avenue to achieving sustainable growth, according to the Small and Micro Enterprise Minister of State, Pio Tabaiwalu.

The State Minister said that conditioning the nation's young people to have a savings habit would have lasting benefits for the nation, like it did for small growing economies like Singapore and Malaysia. Those countries have a national average savings rates of 10% to 12% compared to Fiji's rather dismal rate of 2% to 2.5%.

The State Minister said that it was important to inculcate a habit of saving in people so that a lifetime habit of saving could be embedded in the formative years for it to have effective and long lasting ramifications on Fiji's economy.

Government intends to vigorously pursue investment in small-scale enterprises as these were the engine of growth for the future. One example offered was the honey industry. The Ministry of Agriculture says that the potential demand for beehives is 50,000 and Fiji currently has around 7,000. The Fijian Affairs Board, in that instant, has given a F$500,000.00 loan to the National Centre for Small and Microenterprise Development for development of the honey industry.

The State Minister said being a small country and extremely vulnerable to global market forces, Fiji needed a paradigm shift from focussing on large industries, which require massive capital input and often too unwieldy to survive the changes of rapid globalisation, to small and medium enterprises that do not require such a large infusion of capital and are much more flexible to weather the fluidity of market demands.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. We also also assist small and medium business owners to prepare business plans and arrange facilitate business loans for them. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Vodafone Fiji faces top gun

Vodafone Fiji is likely to face stiff competition from a new player seeking a licence to operate in Fiji. That company is Digicel Communications, a large mobile telecommunications provider in the Caribbean. Competition is expected to bring mobile call rates down 50%. Vodafone is fighting the introduction of another player in the market in Court.

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.

State to cut debt levels

Government aims to reduce national debt levels and the budget deficit, achieve an annual economic growth rate of 5% and to increase investment levels. The comments were made by Sate Minister for National Planning, Jone Navakamocea, and comes as Government prepares a new Strategic Development Plan for the next five years.

The State Minister said major macroeconomic targets envisaged for the next five-year plan included keeping the budget deficit less than 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to drop national debt levels to below the current level of 50%.

The strategic plan will be prepared in the next few months before its finalisation at the National Economic Summit, which would be held in September.

The State Minister said the content of the strategic plan would be drawn from recommendations of the World Bank report, Asian Development Bank report and other relevant documents.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Foreign investment reaches F$1.63 billion

The level of foreign investment here reached F$1.63 billion at the end of 2004. Direct investment accounted for F$544.8 million while other investments totalled F$1.09 billion.

Out of the F$544.8 million for direct investment, equity capital and reinvested earnings was F$534.7 million while other capital stood at F$10.1 million.

Of the other investments which totalled F$1.09 billion, total trade credits stood at F$268.4 million, loans at F$594.8 million, currency and deposits totalled F$211.3 million while Other liabilities stood at F$17.1 million.

These statistics were compiled by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics.

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.

More hotel rooms needed

About 1,000 new hotel rooms will be needed every year for the next five years if the industry is to keep up with current growth trends.

The current room stock is inadequate to cater for the growing demand, although the construction of new integrated resorts will be able to resolve some of these needs over the next three years. The present room count is 7,800 rooms.

Over the last five years, tourist numbers had increased substantially at an average of 10% per year. The all-time high was last year with 521,000 tourists which brought in F$791 million in foreign exchange earnings.

A survey noted that visitors were spending more in Fiji but were staying for shorter periods. Government said it would need to look at causes for this.

In the meantime, the chairman of the Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange said that it was not likely that Fiji would meet its target of turning tourism into a billion dollar industry by the end of 2007. However, the Fiji Visitors Bureau said that it was still optimistic that this target could be met.

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.

Water tops reform list

Six departments in the public service have been identified for reforms and possible privatisation over the short to medium term. These include the Department of Water and Sewerage, Department of National Roads, Public Works Department's Mechanical/Engineering sections, Fiji Film and TV Unit, Government Supplies, the Government Printery and the ownership and management of government quarters.

The corporation of water and sewerage would be given priority given the need to provide reliable, clean and affordable drinking water.

This happens at a time when some areas in the greater Suva area has been having continuous problems with water supply.

Government has, however, assured the public that it would explore options of maintaining a subsidy to ensure that water was accessible and affordable to ordinary people.

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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New look CMDA website to benefit investors

Fiji's Capital Markets Development Authority (CMDA) has a new look website. The re-designed website provides users with four major sections, namely the ‘Investor Information Centre’, the ‘Investor Education Centre’, ‘Corporate Finance and Licensing’ section and the ‘Regulation and Compliance’ section.

The ‘Investor Education Centre’ is one of the main features of the re-designed website and focuses on providing current and potential investors with sufficient educational materials and tools to enable them to learn and understand about the capital market investments more easily. Users will find the latest updates on all free educational seminars on shares, bonds and unit trust investments and can also download educational booklets, FAQs and newsletters for free.

The inclusion of the CMDA Personal Wealth Calculator on the website will enable users to undertake simple financial calculations such as planning out their budgets, calculating returns on their investments and calculating their FNPF pensions to better understand their pension benefits and future requirements.

Users will also gain access to the latest market information and statistics on shares, bonds and unit trusts, including the stock market trading reports and five-year historical financial summary of all listed companies through the ‘Investor Information Centre’ section.

The CMDA Act, Rules and Regulations, which provide the regulatory framework for Fiji’s capital markets and all information on the legal requirements for offering securities in Fiji can be downloaded directly from the ‘Regulation and Compliance’ section of the website.

The Authority realises that investor confidence in the capital markets is of paramount importance and investors are therefore encouraged to make use of the complaints procedures available if they feel they have been wronged.

For more information, please click on the CMDA website's link at the right hand side of this blog.

Note from GV : Our principal, Gilbert Veisamasama Jr, is a licensed investment advisor. You can check the list of approved brokers and investment advisors, http://www.cmda.com.fj/?page=contactBrokersAdvisers.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Remittances to Fiji hit F$500 million mark

Remittances to Fiji has hit F$500 million. These are made up of funds usually sent home by Fiji residents working abroad. The Reserve Bank of Fiji now wishes to know how this money is being spent. It also has asked banks and foreign exchange dealers to put in place procedures to facilitate ease of receipt of such funds in the country.

Our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, has already indicated that it is targetting those sending home remittances and those that receive it here to provide them advice on how to invest the funds received in Fiji. We can also provide assistance to those that wish to set up businesses by helping them incorporating an appropriate business structure and assisting them with preparing business plans and seeking business loans.

Check out our related article in the latest Islands Business magazine on this link, http://www.islandsbusiness.com/fiji_business/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=5824/overideSkinName=issueArticle-full.tpl

For those that wish to use our services, our contacts are :
Gilbert Veisamasama, Jr
Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited
PO Box 14844
Suva
FIJI

Telephones : +679 3396427 or +679 9921427
E-mail : gilbert@connect.com.fj
Skype username and contact : gilbertv67

Tuna stock safe

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

There is no danger of Fiji's tuna stocks being depleted, says Fisheries Minister, Ilaitia Tuisese. This is contrary to popular belief held by industry stakeholders and environment groups.

Mr Tuisese, whose ministry includes policing and ensuring sustainability of Fiji's marine resources, said there was no need to worry about tuna stocks depleting because there was enough supply for the markets and for future generations.

The Fisheries ministry monitors the issuing of fishing licences to ensure there was no overfishing in Fiji waters.

The fisheries sector did very well in the economy last year and is expected to have another good year in 2006.

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.

Abuse affected work scheme

While seasonal work schemes had existed in the past, constant abuse led to their scrapping by countries like Australia and New Zealand. The non-return of people going under such schemes was always a concern. There has not been any feedback from New Zealand who is still studying the proposal put forward by the Pacific Islands' Forum Secretariat. New Zealand is putting together an agreement that would ensure that people return.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Consumption loans continue to rise

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

Consumer consumption on borrowing from financial institutions has continued to increase, according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji. This is despite the 1% interest rate increase imposed on the banking sector in March.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji said domestic demand for the first quarter of 2006 was still relatively strong. Latest data showed that consumption was still rising, assisted by higher incomes and borrowing from financial institutions. Given the narrow production base, the high level of consumption directly translated into strong import growth, which is intensified by high oil prices.

The Reserve Bank said that in order to dampen domestic demand, it had raised the indicator rate by 100 basis points to 3.25% in March, following two increases in October 2005 and May 2004.

In addition, the Reserve Bank tightened liquidity by raising the Statutory Reserve Deposit (SRD) requirement for commercial banks from 5% to 7% last month.

The Reserve Bank said it would closely monitor economic developments in the coming months and will align monetary policy accordingly.

Export performance continues to be depressed. The Reserve Bank said that continuing reforms in the sugar and mining industries were some positives for the exports sector but added that more initiatives were needed for the future to match the growing demand for imports.

The economy is projected to grow by 2.7% this year with growth expected to be more broad-based than it was last year.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans and to facilitate business loans for them. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

New Zealand seeks scheme to support workers

Workers from Pacific Island nations including Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu may be allowed to work temporarily in New Zealand if a system can be found to make sure they return home.

Members of the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum want to send temporary workers to Australia and New Zealand to help ease unemployment in the island states.

The issue is expected to be discussed at the next Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tonga in October.

While New Zealand had made no policy decision on the matter, officials were looking at the guest worker program as an "urgent" issue. The fear, however, is that guest workers may not return home after their employment expires.

Short-term work permits would also avoid the situation in the New Zealand horticulture industry where people on travel visas were employed illegally to pick fruit.

Note from GV : Fiji residents working overseas can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, for investment advice or for assistance to set up and operate a business. We can help with incorporating the business, preparing business plans and arranging business loans. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Veisamasama takes on Investment Market

Check out a story on our business in the latest Islands Business magazine for June 2006 on this link, http://www.islandsbusiness.com/fiji_business/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=5824/overideSkinName=issueArticle-full.tpl.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

New trust fund for property owners

Fijian Holdings Limited yesterday opened a new Property Trust Fund where property owners could save their rental revenue. This is the first such scheme in Fiji. However, interested parties have to meet certain criteria before they can become members of the Trust Fund. These included benchmarks in terms of returns and also the value of the property and the condition of the property are all part of the criteria.

Units are being sold at F$1 per unit and the Trust Fund has started with the Ra Marama building as its first investment property. A separate project on Sukuna House and Vanua Arcade would later be included in the list of properties owned by the Trust Fund.

FHL said the business of fund management had become a robust and fast growing segment of Fiji's capital markets. The number of people investing in the unit trusts market has grown considerably with 12,092 unit holders at end December 2005.

Note from GV : Individuals and groups that need investment advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Port Denarau retail centre to open in March 2007

Fiji's first tourism town, the Port Denarau Retail Centre, will open in March 2007. The town will service hotel guests on Denarau Island. It would also accommodate the retail needs of the residential community and the large number of people who would be using the port facilities there. Major development funding for the project came from Westpac Banking Corporation.

Tabua Investment Limited CEO, Martin Darveniza, said that there was a strong market for investment and development in Fiji and that after the recent elections there was now political stability with everything in place to allow Fiji to benefit both in terms of tourism and development in general.

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.

Sugar to rake in F$250 million

The local sugar industry is set to earn F$250 million from this season's estimated production of 340,000 tonnes of sugar. The estimate, by the Fiji Sugar Marketing Company, comes despite a drop in European Union preferential sugar prices by 5%. The production this year is much more than the 289,000 tonnes of sugar produced last year.

The 340,000 tonnes production estimated will be distributed as follows :

  • 45,000 tonnes is to be set aside for sales within the local and Pacific markets;
  • 192,000 tonnes is earmarked for the European Union;
  • 40,000 tonnes for Japan;
  • 12,000 tonnes for the United States of America; and
  • 56,000 tonnes for the World Market.
The World Market is currently enjoying a high sugar price of US$0.16 per pound.

The first shipment of 30,000 tonnes of sugar worth F$29 million will be shipped to the United Kingdom in mid July.

In the meantime, sugar mills have been facing low cane supply during the first few days of crushing this season. The company said, however, it did not expect this to be a problem and expects to achieve its production estimated this year.

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.

Timber revenue forecast at F$30 million

Revenue earned from mahogany is forecast at F$30 million according to the Minister for Fisheries and Forests. The Minister said the increase in expected revenue from mahogany harvest would come from the increase in logging of mature mahogany forests on Viti Levu. Mahogany production is expected to increase from 60,000 cubic meters last year to 90,000 cubic meters.

Apart from mahogany, pine logging on Vanua Levu is expected to generate F$20 million to the pine sector. Harvesting of pine on Vanua Levu was expected to start next year where up to 25,000 tonnes of pine was expected to be processed at the Fiji Pine Tropic Woods Limited F$15 million processing plant set up at the new part at Wairiki in Bua.

Wairiki port is to be completed at the end of the year at a cost of F$23.5 million.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans and to facilitate business loans for them. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Air Pacific domestic flights on hold

A delay of three months is expected before national carrier, Air Pacific, finds out if it will be allowed to fly domestically. This comes after the High Court granted a stay order against Air Pacific and its affiliate companies from operating domestic flights on routes serviced by Air Fiji. Air Pacific is to appeal against the judgement in the Fiji Court of Appeal at the earliest opportunity. The airline was to have commenced servicing domestic routes in July.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bio-diesel the cheaper alternative

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

Fiji may soon have a practical, environmentally friendly and economical fuel source according to research at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Chemists at the USP's School of Natural Resources believe that industries and individuals would be better placed in using non-toxic and bio-degradable mono alkyl esters. The fuel can be used in any diesel engine without any need for modifications and is more cleaner.

The fuel is basically a mixture of oil and alcohol that the University has been developing since July last year. It can be used in place of kerosene. Raw materials for producing bio-diesel can be derived from waste oil or coconut oil.

The chemists hoped the regional countries could tap into bio-diesel given the abundance of raw materials like coconuts. Given consistent fuel price hikes over the last two years, bio-diesel would be a cheaper alternative source of fuel.

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.

Fiji Sugar Corporation to make 500 staff redundant

The Fiji Sugar Corporation will make 500 staff redundant in moves to streamline the company. Redundancy will be voluntary with staff opting for it to be paid off by a formula according to their years of service and years left to retirement. More firm figures will be given by the company later. The redundancy program will take between one and two years to complete.

The sugar industry has been having a lot of problems lately with expiry of leases of farmers and the loss of preferential prices with the European Union. Displaced farmers have been assisted through an Alternative Livelihoods Project funded by the Asian Development Bank and implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture.

With the upcoming redundancy, more Fiji citizens will have to look for opportunities elsewhere. One best option is for them to start their own small businesses.

For preparation of business plans and arrangement of business loans or for general business advice, people can use our company's services, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj. We also provide investment advice.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Affordable loans for small businesses

Getting long-term commercial loans at low costs would be possible for small and medium businesses after the introduction of a new pilot scheme by the European Investment Bank.

The announcement was made following a recent meeting hosted in Suva by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Forum Secretariat.

The scheme would serve two roles :
  • to reduce the cost of borrowing long term funds for small and medium enterprises by reducing the associated risks; and
  • to help develop the local financial sector.

Participants at the meeting highlighted the fact that SMEs in the Pacific Region had difficulty in acquiring long-term commercial loans.

The European Investment Bank announced its willingness to work closely with the domestic commercial banks on the new pilot project. The scheme would provide technical assistance and other services to small and medium businesses in the Pacific region.

In addition, the project would provide risk-mitigating instruments, including guarantees and local currency loans.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans and to facilitate business loans for them as well as for general business advice. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

State to retain port ownership

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

The Government would retain ownership of Fiji's port and related infrastructure to facilitate trade, investment and development of the industry.

Government said that if Fiji was to be part of the mainstream economic and commercial activities, shipping services to the outer islands and the existing infrastructure had to be improved.

It said that it was "imperative that our ports remain competitive in the Pacific region. We should provide efficient and cost effective services to our citizens."

While the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited also owns a subsidiary to handle port terminal and other functions, the Government is committed to opening that area for competition and possible privatisation.

Fiji Ports Corporation has completed a number of projects to develop Fiji's ports. Some of the projects included reclamation at Lautoka Port to get an additional 15 acres of land between the existing Queens Wharf and Punja's Oil Mill; further reclamation at the Rokobili Subdivision in Suva and the construction of a new headquarters at Muaiwalu to house other maritime government and commercial bodies.

There are also plans to take over and manage local jetties at Natovi, Savusavu, Nabouwalu and Taveuni.

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.

Tourism boom for community

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

A rural community in the West is experiencing a rapid growth in the tourism industry. As most people from the community become more engaged in employment within the tourism industry, other industries in the area are starting to feel the pinch.

For sugar cane farmers of Ellington, about 10 kilometers from Vaileka, finding an adequate number of cutters to harvest their crop has proven to be quite a task.

A community member from the area said they began to feel the impact soon after the development of several resorts in the area. He said the area had continued to grow in popularity as more developers bid for properties for future projects.

In the area, two resorts were under construction while several other properties were being marked and cleared for projects.

Many locals that usually depended solely on cane farming in the past have begun to realise the benefits of joining the tourism industry.

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.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Political climate is good for investment : FTIB

The speedy formation of the multi-party Cabinet and quick political appointments are a stabilising factor for the economy and for investment, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB) said at the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council. The FTIB said concerns about political instability after the general election had been allayed with the new government more committed and encouraging further investment in the country for both local and foreign investors.

Foreign investment process reforms implemented in the past three years would also boost investment.

FTIB had identified the ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) industry as one with exceptional potential to attract foreign investors and push up economic growth. More than $11 million was invested in ICT businesses at the beginning of last year because of low Internet costs, available infrastructure and affordable labour costs.

The other sector behind Fiji's growth is the tourism industry.

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.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Growth rates remain at 3%

Growth over the next three years is expected to be around 3% - the same as that averaged over the last three years. Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Savenaca Narube made the comments at the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council joint conference in Suva yesterday. He said that major challenges remained for the country given its smallness and vulnerability.

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.

Multi million dollar sponsorship for Fiji 7s Rugby

The Fiji Rugby Unio has secured a multi-million dollar sponsorship through a new partnership with international mobile telecommunications company, Digicel. Under the sponsorship agreement, the Caribbean based company will become FRU's telecommunications partner and sole sponsor of the Fiji 7s team. Included in the arrangement are financial bonuses to players linked to successful results on the field. Digicel's vision for Fiji is that it will become the headquarters of its pan South Pacific network as it expands across the region. Last month, Digicel, in alliance with the Ba Provincial Holding, received an initial approval from the Government of Fiji for the grant of a licence to provide mobile telecommunications services in Fiji. Over the past five years, Digicel has created the largest GSM network in the Caribbean with operations in 20 countries covering a total population of more than 15 million and employing over 2,000 people.

Minister seeks Kiwis help

Finance Minister, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, has called on New Zealand's assistance to boost our exports to that country.

Speaking at the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council meeting in Suva yesterday, Ratu Jone said statistics indicated a worsening trade imbalance between the two countries. He said the country had gone from a negative $287 million trade deficit in 2001 to a negative $438 million in 2005. He said that Fiji exports to New Zealand were showing alarming decline which had to be addressed.

Among a number of promising areas for investment and export growth, he said, is fresh produce for which New Zealand demand was fast increasing.

At the same meeting, Rewa Dairy, the country's only dairy producer, said that it would be increasing milk production. He said that the major problem it faced was insufficient supply of milk from farms and that it would now at extending dairying into Fiji's main sugar producing regions.

The company said that it looked on countries with advanced dairying, like New Zealand, to partner with in the expansion and further development of the dairy industry in Fiji. The combined value of all dairy sales in Fiji is F$50 million which indicates that the local industry has unrealised potential.

Aside from first increasing local milk production, other priorities for the industry include improved efficiency and high production on farms and at mills.

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.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Fiji eyes Pacific markets

A delegation from Fiji will leave this month on a trade mission to Samoa, Tonga and American Samoa as part of the export promotional activities for this year.

Organised by the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB), the delegation comprises representatives from local companies and officials from FTIB, who would spend two days in each country, to expand markets for their produce.

As an export promotion mission, its primary aim is to promote local products and services to the potential market countries. These trade missions help Fiji companies break into a new market or establish contacts with importers from these countries, identify their competition, quality of the market, the price structure and identify new products that can be exported.

As the target markets are going through good economic growth, Fiji companies can enter the market at such a time and assist with the growth and in turn improve our exports.

As part of the mission, a display of products would be mounted for the benefit of importers in the target countries and the general public in their respective countries.

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.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fiji Civil Servants to receive F$8 million in backpay today

More than 13,000 civil servants will today share a F$8 million payout for Cost of Living Adjustments. The payout is being backdated two years for more than three quarters of civil servants who earn F$17,500 or less. This week's COLA payment is based on an award by Permanent Arbitrator, William Callanchini, in October last year that provided for civil servants earning F$17,500 or less receiving higher pay rises, ranging from 5% to 12%. Other COLA arrears of 2% from 2003 and 2% from 2004 would be paid out in August this year while another 4% would be paid out in December. From 2005 to 2007, all civil servants would then receive a flat 4% COLA payment.

Note from GV : Individuals and companies that require investment or business advice can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Local consortium buys out Courts, the largest furniture retailer and financier in Fiji

Vision Group Limited, consisting of local hardware company RC Manubhai Group, tourist services company, Jacks of Fiji; industrial investor group, Challenge Group; and property investors, Candle Investments, won a bid to buy out Courts Fiji Limited, the largest furniture retailer and hire purchase financier in Fiji.

The win ended months of speculation after there were five bids, with four coming in from overseas. The international bidders were from South Africa.

The local group of companies first made a bid for ownership of Courts Fiji after an announcement that the parent company, Courts Company, UK, went into receivership 18 months ago.

In the arrangement, RC Manubhai, Jacks of Fiji and Challenge Group each own 30% of the new company while Candle Investment owns the remaining 10%.

The new company said it would make a stock take of all aspects of Courts Fiji in the next 6 to 12 months before deciding on plans for expansion to create more jobs and investment opportunities.

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.

Local airline's profits fall due to high fuel prices

National carrier, Air Pacific, has recorded an operating profit before tax of F$21.5 million for the 2006 financial year. However, the result is a 40% reduction compared to the F$35.9 million it posted last year.

While the airline earned F$449.4 million in revenue - up F$8.7 million from last year - total expenditure increased by F$23.2 million to F$428.9 million.

Air Pacific's Chairman, Nalin Patel, said the huge rise in expenditure was a result of increase fuel costs. Fuel costs had increased from 27% to 34% of the airline's total expenditure.

On other factors, Mr Patel said the airline's primary source of revenue - tourism inflows - was negatively affected in the January to March period by uncertainty caused by the imposition of a hotel turnover tax as well as adverse reporting of Fiji's stability in the lead-up to the general election.

Also contributing to a low business turnout was the excess seat capacity caused by the introduction of "no frills airlines" into the market.

The airline said that the fact that Air Pacific remained profitable whilst many airlines have experienced losses is gratifying. It said that the current year posed an even greater challenge with continuing high fuel prices.

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.