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This blog is brought to you by Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, a financial advisory services and consulting company based in Suva, Fiji.
To contact the authors of this blog, please call telephones (679) 3342719, (679) 3544897 or e-mail info@gilbert.com.fj.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Accommodation for business travellers to Suva

We provide a two bedroom furnished home that can be used by business travellers to Suva. For the two months of August and September, we are running a 20% discount special on the rate per night. So far 30 days of a special rate period has been taken up, leaving only 35 days remaining. For those that are interested in the offer, the discounted rate offered will be F$112.00 per night and will include the following :
  • up to 4 guests;
  • ADSL Broadband Internet access with a Personal Computer;
  • welcome supplies of coffee/cocoa, tea, milk, sugar, bathing soap, dishwashing liquid, garbage bags and paper towels;
  • daily newspapers provided for guests staying over 2 weeks;
  • 3 free sessions per week at the Hyndai Fitness Centre or the National Aquatic Centre for guests staying longer than 4 weeks.
The home would be an ideal alternative for those that intend to stay for more than a few days in Suva.

For more details on what the home offers and photos of the home, please click on links at the right hand side of this blog. For contact, you can e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or call +679 3396427.

Trade weight will shift to China : PM

The current rate of Fiji's trade relations with China will see it surpass Australia and New Zealand as Fiji's main trading partner in the near future, according to the Prime Minister.

The Chinese government had been providing three types of assistance to Fiji including financial grants (which do not require repayment but for Government to identify projects that fall into this category), soft loans (under concessionary conditions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance coordinating those would want to access this), and the grassroots assistance program where requests could be directed to the Chinese embassy wherein the embassy would then consult with Government on recipients.

The PM said that under the grassroots assistance programme, many rural schools had improved their standards with new teachers' quarters, classrooms and water tanks.

Government will be hosting China's Minister of Foreign Affairs when he visits Fiji next week. The Chinese Minister will be conducting bilateral talks with his Fijian counterpart and sign a grant of F$2.169 million for an agreement on economic and technical cooperation.

The visit by China's Foreign Affairs Minister is one of the many expected follow-up visits between the two countries after agreements and commitments were signed between Fiji and the People's Republic of China in April.

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.

State to focus on bilateral programs

The Foreign Affairs Ministry says Fiji will now focus on strengthening bilateral programs following the indefinite suspension of the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations last week.

The Ministry made the comment while talking about the direction of talks with the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister who is to visit Fiji next week.

The Ministry said it was important that Fiji did not let up but change its strategy and start focussing on bilateral programmes.

Fiji is a WTO member and should the WTO talks fail, it would mean that some of the proposals the country had pushed for with other members would loosen some of the rules on the export of agricultural and industrial goods would not happen, according to the Ministry.

The Ministry said the Doha agenda was important to the country as it recognised the concerns of small economies and the need for special and differential treatment in order to account for the special needs of developing and least developing countries.

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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Vodafone profits ring lower

A drop in mobile phone charges caused Vodafone Fiji's profits in the 2006 financial year to drop by F$5.6 million over the previous year. However, the company recorded the second highest growth in subscribers during the year.

According to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings 2006 annual report, Vodafone reported a profit after tax of F$26 million for the year ended 31 March 2006 compared to F$31.6 million for the same period last year.

Vodafone attributed the slump in profits to the impact of the Commerce Commission's ruling in October last year which mandated a drop in mobile call charges by up to 70%. The company said the slump in profits was only felt for six months.

Vodafone expects to boost profits again after increasing sales volume throughout strategies to increase usage, sourcing cheaper handsets allowing customers easier access to the network as well as a tightening of cost controls company-wide.

New services are to be introduced in the new financial year with the launch of a 3G service.

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.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Chamber proposes virtual zones

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce has proposed that separate tax packages be implemented for the country's resource based and information technology sectors.

The Chamber has called on Government to move away from the traditional concept of tax incentives designed to cater for industries along the lines of physical localities.

The Chamber believes that the introduction of virtual tax free zones for the agricultural sector would lead to greater participation and economic growth. It said that since Fiji was agriculture-driven, the possibility of greater economic growth lay in the nation's ability to develop its resource-based sector. Such an incentive is expected to improve the indigenous community's role in the nation's economic activity.

Virtual tax free zones would ensure that everyone in that particular sector enjoyed the benefits of such packages, irrespective of the location of business.

Note from GV : 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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Firm ignores users anger

Despite mounting frustration over congestion in the mobile phone network, Vodafone Fiji continues to urge customers to take advantage of its double-up promotion.

Vodafone said stopping the promotion in the last few days would have little impact on the network because many people already topped up their cards and would make calls with their extra air-time.

The promotion ends on Monday.

The Consumer Council of Fiji said that it had received a lot of calls, most of which were from post-pay customers who had to put up with the network congestion even though they did not qualify for the promotion. The Council said customers were topping up because Vodafone charges were high and there was no competitor.

The Commerce Commission said that prior to offering any promotions, Vodafone should engage in extensive awareness programs through all media to advise its customers of its intentions and the impact of the new promotions to ensure that customers are aware of what is being offered and its consequences.

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.

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings profit up F$10.4 million

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) recorded a F$34.9 million profit for its most recent financial year end, a F$10.4 million increase from its previous annual profit. The surplus was recorded despite tough changes to telecommunication costs laid down by the Fiji Commerce Commission last year.

Despite the reduction in rates ordered by the Commerce Commission, ATH put in place strategies to deal with the situation. These included costs savings from enhanced productivity and better management, particularly in the operations of the domestic fixed line network.

ATH said aggressive marketing by Vodafone Fiji helped overcome the impact of lower call charges.

The group is looking at the possibility of a new corporate structure. The group said it needed to become internationally competitive to facilitate communications between the South Pacific islands and the rest of the world. The group said the biggest problem it faced was the awkward structure of a regulated market.

Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL), a subsidiary of ATH reported a net profit of F$19.6 million for its 2006 financial year, following what it said was significant savings. TFL's expenses were reduced by a significant margin of F$10 million.

The company undertook a number of initiatives which resulted in the cost savings. These included "quick win" projects such as fleet and office equipment rationalisation, credit control initiatives, shared services and purchasing within the group, and initiatives with the Fiji Electricity Authority and Post Fiji Limited.

To attend to the decline in connections and stimulate traffic in the network, TFL has embarked on a program to grow the line base to 110,000 lines and increase traffic in the network by 50%.

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.

Wage cuts suggested by the Reserve Bank of Fiji

The Reserve Bank of Fiji has warned Government to cut take home pay in the civil service to prevent any further interest rate rises. The Reserve Bank said fiscal policy should support monetary policy.

The Bank said Government needed to put in place measures that discouraged import substitution, reduced take home pay or reduced the extent of borrowing for the national budget.

The Finance Minister said wages and salaries were a major expenditure of government and one area that could be looked at in cost cutting. However, the Minister added that cutting wages and salaries was something that could not be done overnight as it involved people. He has not ruled out the possibility of increasing taxes and tariffs saying there were always several options available.

The Reserve Bank said that while Fiji's foreign reserves were adequate at the moment, it was concerned about the future because commodity exports like sugar, garments, agriculture, forestry and fishing were under-performing.

Friday, July 28, 2006

New Guestbook

We have added a new Guestbook for visitors to enter their comments and suggestions on. Visitors can also send a private message to the blog owner by clicking on the appropriate box in the message template when sending a message. We would be grateful if you could send us your views, comments and suggestions on the Guestbook provided. To enter a comment, please click on the appropriate links at the right hand side of this blog.

Fiji eyes boost in bilateral trade

Fiji's exports to New Caledonia have grown by 58% over the last four years, says Minister for Foreign Affairs. Kaliopate Tavola made this comment while launching the trade promotion mission to New Caledonia on Tuesday. The Minister said that while the present balance of trade was in the country's favour, efforts would focus on how trade could be boosted and at the same time promote reciprocity. New Caledonia said to grow bilateral trade it would explore ways of increasing its exports to Fiji and one was service such as engineering.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Investment mission to promote Fiji

A local business delegation will aim to lift Fiji's business profile during a 3-city trade and investment tour of Australia this year.

The Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau and the Fiji-Australia Business Council will stage the mission in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in early October.

The Bureau said the main objective of the mission was to develop an export programme for new and potential exporters and businesses that had an interest in the Australian market while the investment focus of the mission will be on ICT, manufacturing/processing (i.e. value adding of agricultural, marine and forestry based commodities) and tourism related activities.

The mission will aim for greater awareness of Fiji products in Australia. It will also market investment opportunities in Fiji and identify potential joint venture partners or direct investors.

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.

Wage rate system "unfair"

The Fiji Chamber of Commerce believes it is not fair to place wage rate systems on informal and small micro-business enterprises. The Chamber said that while huge corporates could bear such costs easily, it was not fair to place minimum wage rates on small family-run businesses.

The Chamber said "when you institutionalise minimum wage, it will stifle and impede the growth of small, micro enterprise and the informal sector. This will not encourage growth. It will affect the development of the informal sector."

The Chamber added that it was not right for informal business that had just started to pay tax and provident fund contributions.

The Fiji Employers Federation said that "the difficulty is that (highly paid) jobs are not available for everyone, hence the competitive role played by all. The growth of higher paid responsible employment opportunities is heavily dependent on the success and profitability of existing businesses, and forcibly sharing of the wealth created by business by paying exhorbitant wages and salaries defeats that objective".

It will be interesting to see how these arguments pan out.

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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New local airline poised for region

Fiji Airlines Limited is going ahead with plans to operate regional flights while fighting a legal challenge to its bid to fly locally. Set up by national carrier, Air Pacific, the airline has taken delivery of the first of two aircraft to service regional routes. The ATR42-500 would fly to destinations such as Tonga and Vanuatu.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

State hopeful of opening up mobile telephone market

The Government hopes to open up the mobile phone market and is negotiating with possible service providers.

The Minister for Information and Communications said Government was negotiating terms with possible providers and hopes to come to an agreement to open up the market.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister said the mobile phone was a lifeline and a means for economic advancement to the people of Lau when he launched Vodafone's Lau network yesterday.

The launching puts islands in the northern Lau group in the Vodafone network.

Islands suppliers doing business with mainland buyers can now maintain two way contact with their market as with the shipping company and the air service provider.

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.

Shipping services worry PM

The poor quality of shipping services to the outer islands remains a major concern, says the Prime Minister. The PM said he was not only concerned about shipping services in the Lau Group but also about services to the Lomaiviti Group, Rotuma and other outlying islands.

He said current services were bad considering the poor quality of ships, services offered, passenger accommodation and toilet facilities.

Government is considering buying two or three ships to supplement the ones being used in order to address the problem.

Government is also looking at reviewing the current franchise scheme which is being described as only beneficial to shipowners. The review process will look into setting a standard for ships that wish to service the outlying islands.

Meanwhile, the Bua Provincial Council has bought the vessel, "North Land", worth F$ 3 million. The boat will be run commercially and will be used by the people of Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove. It has a passenger capacity of 400.

A team will be leaving soon for Germany to bring the vessel to Fiji with operations to start in September.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to prepare business plans, review business strategy, and/or to facilitate business loans for them. We can also facilitate all necessary licences, permits and approvals required for setting up. Our principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

August F$9 million payout for State workers

Civil servants will receive their 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payout, estimated to cost the State F$9 million, in August. The ministries and departments have been asked to contribute funds not used in their budgets for the payout with the Agriculture Ministry alone contributing between F$2 million to F$3 million. The Commerce Ministry said they would be contributing a very substantial amount for the payout but did not reveal how much it would be. In an environment of rising interest rates, it would be an opportune time for such funds to be invested by those receiving them. 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.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Government developing export strategy with the private sector

Thirteen sectors have been identified in an extensive exercise that involves the export of goods and services in a move to improve economic trade. The Ministry of Commerce said the outcome would be finalised by the end of the year.

The comments by the Ministry of Commerce follow recent revelations by the Fiji Nursing Association where graduate nurses could work on 3-year contracts abroad to gain experience based on Cabinet approval on labour mobility.

Nurses, caregivers and peacekeepers are some of the categories being looked at.

There is an increasing number of Fiji residents taking up work abroad and remitting money to Fiji. This year, the Reserve Bank of Fiji has put an estimate to Remittances to Fiji made by Fiji residents or former Fiji residents working/living abroad to F$500 million. This money is one we are targeting from our company for which we offer our investment and business advisory services for.

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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Overload of mobile network from phone promotion

Vodafone Fiji says it went ahead with its "double-up" promotion on recharge cards this month when it knew the move would clog its network. Vodafone said enquiries from customers prompted the company to start the promotion.

Consumers get double the value of recharge cards bought under the promotion that started on 15 July and ends 31 July.

The Consumer Council of Fiji said it had received numerous complaints from frustrated customers. The Council said that Vodafone should discontinue the promotion if it could not efficiently accommodate the demand created by the promotion.

The Council said that Vodafone admits to facing technical problems every time the promotion is run yet it continues to run the same promotion and accumulate profits at the expense and inconvenience of its paying customers who are not getting efficient services from the company but are expected to continue paying their expensive line rentals.

This brings us to the issue of having a monopoly provider. It may be high time now that Government looks at opening up the mobile telephony market to allow other operators to come in. Only with increased competition can customer services and service delivery be improved.

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.

Real estate agents in the spotlight

All real estate agents will have to be registered under new legislation expected to come into force before the end of the year. The comment comes as the sector standing committee on economical services closed its submissions hearing for the Real Estate Services Bill yesterday.

A number of submissions were made with many complaints lodged about real estate agents making huge profits.

After new regulations are introduced, it is expected that investment will increase especially from retirees from overseas.

A submittee suggested that laws should be implemented that would allow the buyer and seller to hold their own negotiation. Currently, the submittee said that agents increased their prices and did not give the two parties a chance to negotiate. He said that the agent's role should be to finalise the deal.

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.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Power body to look at fuel implications

Rising fuel costs, its implications for power utilities and how these issues can be addressed, will be discussed at the 15th annual conference of the Pacific Power Association. The conference theme is "Investing in Long-term Sustainability".

Key focus at the conference would be fuel, renewable energy and energy efficiency as fuel as it seriously affected the operating costs of power utilities and the economy. The Assocation said renewable energy and energy efficiency will be addressed arising from the need to reduce imports of fossil fuel, which make up about 70% of power utilities' budgets.

The Association said there was a need to seek alternative methods of generating electricity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other issues to be discussed at the conference include : customer issues, electricity production, and transmission and distribution.

Chief executives of power utilities, donor agencies and other energy stakeholders will attend the conference, which will cater for more than 150 participants and include representatives from 17 utilities from the region.

The event has drawn interest from 37 exhibitors representing companies from United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, France, Singapore and from within the region.

The conference will be held for 5 days commencing 25 July 2006 at the Warwick Resort on the Coral Coast.

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.

Boost to dalo industry

The dalo industry expects to double its $19 million annual earnings following the introduction of a new pesticide to fight a scourge affecting it. The pesticides were launched yesterday by the Ministry of Agriculture to fight the dalo beetle. The Ministry said that in tests over four years, the pesticide had proven successful in killing 90 per cent of beetles they came into contact with. F$750,000.00 had been spent to research for a pesticide to kill the beetle. The pesticides, known as Confidor, Suncloprid and Bifentherin, will be sold by Chemical suppliers, Agchem and Morris Hedstrom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hotec 2006 : Hotel Products Show

The Fiji Islands Hotel & Tourism Association is organising the Hotec 2006 at the Sheraton Fiji from 25 to 27 October 2006. Visit it for an exhibition of products that support the hotel, dive & tourism industry. For more details call +679 3302980 or +679 9266940.

Korotogo Craft Fair

The Western Arts & Crafts Society is organising a craft fair at Korotogo. Buy Fiji made art and handicrafts direct from artists and crafts people on Saturday, 22 July 2006, from 10am to 4pm at Namana Beachfront, Korotogo, Coral Coast. For more details telephone +679 6500218 or e-mail namana@connect.com.fj.

Indian assistance to help coconut industry

Coconut growers and manufacturers of coconut-based products will benefit from expertise from India through a memorandum of understanding to be signed with the Indian government. The experts from India would do studies and make recommendations to Government.

The Ministry of Agriculture said they had sought assistance from India to revitalise the coconut industry with a vigorous replanting program and to establish small, family-managed cottage industries for income generation in rural areas.

India would provide qualified professional engineers and advisors.

The Agriculture Ministry said that other uses of coconut would also be explored to move away from the traditional dependence on copra due to its vulnerability to changing prices of coconut oil.

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, July 19, 2006

Rice Venture Welcomed

Rewa Rice and the Vanua Levu Rice Farmers Association has welcomed a joint venture between the Government and a company based in China, which will see the revitalisation of the rice industry in Fiji.

The venture will help develop a detailed action plan on rice revitalisation project in the country.

The Chinese company, Hunan Provincial Rice Company of the People's Republic of China is the largest producer of rice in China.

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.

Post Fiji Limited lays off staff

Post Fiji Limited has laid off 61 workers who voluntarily accepted the redundancy package offered by the company. The cost of the redundancy package to the company was F$3 million.

Post Fiji said the workers accepted the package deal of three months salary for each year of service completed with the company.

42 workers who had reached the retirement age of 50 also received an additional F$15,000.00 each on top of their redundancy payout.

The postal services company is in the process of restructuring its operations and the redundancy action was part of that process.

After the redundancy and restructure the company intends to save about F$2.5 million per 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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Free Investment Seminar

Attend one of two free investment seminars organised by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) in the Western Division, Saturday, 22 July 2006. Details are as follows :

Getting Started in Share Investing - and learn about :
  • the basic features of share investments;
  • the benefits and risks of investing in shares;
  • how the share market in Fiji operates;
  • some simple analytical tools for selecting shares, when to buy and sell shares;

Getting Started in Unit Trust Investments - and learn about :
  • the basic features of unit trust investments;
  • the benefits and risks of investing in unit trusts;
  • how the unit trust market in Fiji operates;
  • some simple analytical tools on how to pick unit trust investments.
Both are scheduled from 9am to 12.30pm at the Tokatoka Resort Hotel Conference Room, Queens Road, Nadi.

Call and register your names with the Authority on +679 3304944 or +679 9922021 or e-mail info@cmda.com.fj. Limited places available.

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.

Monday, July 17, 2006

State will assist in pineapple effort

The Government will provide assistance to farmers in the Northern Division who want to plant off-season pineapple for local and overseas markets.

While a few farmers in the Division have started experimenting with the help of Ministry of Agriculture officials, others have been encouraged to utilise their land well.

The agriculture officer for Macuata Province said there was a huge potential for growing pineapples in Vanua Levu due to the availability of land and manpower. He said the soil type and climate in Macuata was favourable for growing pineapples.

Pineapples were currently grown in at least 130 farms in Macuata West and part of Bua at Nasarawaqa.

Pineapple is one of the good commodities under the Alternative Livelihood Project programmes for which marketing strategies are streamlined for local and export markets.

Recently a New Zealand investor showed interest in venturing into marketing of Fiji pineapples. The investor has already made several visits to Seaqaqa Research Station to see the different varieties that can be grown from suitable ways of marketing pineapples either as fresh, pouched, peeled or vacuum packed.

The Agriculture Marketing Authority is also looking into the possibility of buying pineapples from Vanua Levu during the main season.

The Ministry of Agriculture's assistance is through providing seeds, small farming implements and advice to farmers who wanted to start afresh on barren 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 principal is also an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Farmers urged to seek help

Farmers have been encouraged to seek assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture in order to develop their market. Farmers in the rural areas have been complaining about the lack of visits and agricultural advice from agricultural officers. The Ministry has often stated that the policy over the last decade was only to focus its advisory services and assistance on individuals or groups who showed the initiative to help themselves. Ministry officials have noted that they operate under trying conditions with poor support services. However, the Ministry is ready to help farmers and said that farmers seek assistance when they needed it.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to review business strategies for their businesses. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

HFC Finance releases new rates

HFC Finance, a licensed credit institution in Fiji, has released a schedule of its new rates. To be effective Monday, 24 July 2006, the rates includes the following:
  • Fixed Home Lending Rate, 8.15%;
  • Variable Home Lending Rate, 10.00%;
  • Personal Lending Rate, 13.00%;
  • Small to Medium Businesses' Fixed Lending Rate (for first six months), 9.30%;
  • Small to Medium Businesses' Variable Lending Rate, 10.75%;
  • Medium to Large Businesses' Fixed Lending Rate (for first two months), 9.40%;
  • Medium to Large Businesses' Variable Lending Rate, 10.25%;
  • Penalty Interest Rate (for defaulting loans), 16.00%.

The release also contains a schedule of deposit rates, the highest and most significant of which is that for term deposits between 12 and 24 months paying 6.5%. This is currently the second highest being paid by financial institutions in Fiji for retail term deposits.

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. One of our principals is an Investment Adviser licensed by the Capital Markets Development Authority (of Fiji) and can provide investment advice to individuals or groups. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

LPG vehicles are economical

Vehicles run by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) are found to be economical, comfortable and without noise and fumes. LPG cars are also low maintenance. The comments were made by the owner of a major taxi company in Suva. Government provides tax concessions for taxi permit holders only. After these concessions, these cars are cheaper to purchase than diesel or petrol vehicles. In Fiji, there is scope for the import and sale of these cars as Government looks at measures to contain its high import bill - one of the major components of which is that paid for fuel and oil. 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, July 12, 2006

Shell Fiji seals deal

Shell has finalised the sale of its business in several Pacific Islands including Fiji. In a press statement, the company said it had signed sales and purchase agreements with buyers for the sale of its businesses in Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and French Polynesia. The sales were conditional upon government approval and were expected to be completed in late 2006 or early 2007.

The sale covers Shell's distribution, marine, lubricants, commercial fuels and retail businesses.

The businesses in Fiji and Tonga will be purchased by Total Oil while businesses in Vanuatu and French Polynesia will be purchased by Albert Moux and Partners. Total Oil is a French company partly owned by the French Government.

Shell had previously advised the sale of its business in PNG to Inter Oil Products Limited. The status of Shell's business in the Solomon Islands and its aviation businesses in the Cook Islands will be the subject of further announcement.

The company said that Shell's business in the Pacific Islands were operating in a market with good, long-term prospects, a loyal customer base, professional staff and reliable business partners.

From Shell's perspective, the business in the Pacific remained small which was the reason for the sale. However, the businesses had a history of good cash and operational performance.

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, July 11, 2006

Town plans foreshore lift

Lami Town, on the other side of Suva Harbour, when one travels towards Nadi from Suva, is ready for a major facelift in a planned reclamation of 19 hectares of its foreshore to boost investment. The foreshore reclamation will be carried out in the area alongside the central business district area facing Suva Harbour. Shopping malls, a park reserve, mariner roads, waterways and buildings for light commercial use are part of the project. A hotel with a convention centre is one of the highlights. There will also be provision for anchoring yachts and small boats. The project will be funded by private investment.

Expert pushes coconut oil

Coconut oil possesses nutritional and health benefits according to Dr Bruce Fife of the Coconut Research Centre of Colorado, USA. Dr Fife, an author, certified nutritionist and naturopath, is in Fiji to introduce new ways of using coconuts and its by-products.

Dr Fife is director of the Coconut Research Centre in Colorado Springs, a non-profit organisation whose purpose is to educate people about the health and nutritional aspects of coconuts.

He argues that coconuts contain a special group of fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which when used is place of other dietary fats, reduces body fat, resulting in lower weight.

Dr Fife said MCTs in coconut oil were an immediate source of body fuel and produced energy instead of fat.

Dr Fife will conduct a public lecture on the health properties of coconut on July 13 in Suva. Please read details on my other blog, http://promotingsuva.blogspot.com/.

Sugar by-products to boost economy

Two sugar by-products planned by the Fiji Sugar Corporation are expected to boost the economy after the sugar industry is restructured, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said. The corporation plans to make ethanol and produce electricity for sale.

Mr Qarase urged all industry stakeholders to join hands in ensuring that the restructure program was successful and completed on time. Mr Qarase said equipment and a few specialists from the Sugar Technical Mission of India were expected in the country in a few months.

With the reduction in sugar prices expected in 2007 because of the reduction in subsidies from the European Union, Mr Qarase said a 30% rise in efficiency of the mills was needed to increase production and maintain viability.

Feasibility studies on production of electricity and ethanol were being done. With the price of petrol increasing rapidly on world markets, Mr Qarase said it was important to look at other forms of fuel and possibly look at exporting fuel.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Firms to finish Kings Road

The Government will be paying F$28 million to two local firms to finish the upgrading of the Kings Road by 2008. The firms appointed were BW Holdings Limited and Standard Concrete Industries Limited.

The contract given to BW Holdings worth around F$17 million consists of completing earthworks, drainage and sub-base, and will cover 21 kilometers from Korovou to Lawaki Village near Queen Victoria School and 9 kilometers from Korovou to Waito.

The second contract give to Standard Concrete Industries Limited worth F$11 million is for supply of gravel.

Construction is expected to start in October.

Interest rates bad for small business

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times.

The continuous increase in interest rates will bankrupt a number of businesses, warns the Fiji Retailers Association. It has reiterated calls for the Government to appoint a banking ombudsman or a committee under the Ministry of Finance to scrutinise bank fees and charges.

Commercial banks increased interest rates by 1% on all lending products this week after another increase in official interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

Association president said the rising interest rates were hurting small-to-medium entrepreneurs. The Association president said, "The small traders are always vulnerable to any such factors which, coupled with increased competition and tough times, will find it difficult to tide through the immediate future. We find that at such times, the larger business houses survive owing to their negotiating powers with the commercial banks and sufficient margins."

He said recent fuel hikes was not helping small traders as the buying power of the average consumer would be affected.

Commercial banks said the rise in lending rates was unavoidable following the increase by the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited will increase interest rates by 1% on all lending products effective from Monday, 10 July. Yesterday, Bank of Baroda implemented its second increase in rates this year.

Note from GV : Small and medium business owners can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, to discuss or come up with business strategies to cater to this new environment. We also can assist with preparing business plans and facilitate business loans. Our contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Friday, July 07, 2006

ANZ and Bank of Baroda increase interest rates

ANZ and Bank of Baroda increased their lending rates yesterday by 1%, a move they said was inevitable following the central bank's latest increase in official interest rates. ANZ Bank said the increase was a direct result of the Reserve Bank increase and would be effective on from Monday, 10 July. For locally issued credit cards, the increase in interest rates would come into effect on 17 July. The bank said that consumer demand remained buoyant and was supported by strong credit growth which had been a concern for the central bank. The bank said the present outlook for investment remained sound, the bank had vowed to closely monitor future policy changes. The Bank of Baroda's new rates come into effect today. The bank said it did not pass on entirely the high cost of funds among its clients but had absorbed the costs. Despite the increase, the bank said its lending rates in respect of retail, commercial and housing loans would remain the lowest compared to the other commercial banks in Fiji.

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.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Carpenters opens new retread centre

Carpenters opened a new Retread Centre at Carpenter Street, Raiwai, Suva, last Friday. The new retread centre is part of the Tyres Division and its opening marked the services now on offer to people living in and around the Raiwai area.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reserve Bank of Fiji raises official interest rates again

The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) has raised official interest rates from 3.25% to 4.25%. The rate rise is the second this year. In line with the rate hike, the RBF's Minimum Lending Rate will also increase to 5.25%. These new rates came into effect on Thursday, 29 June.

The RBF said in raising interest rates for the second time this year, the Board noted that the pattern of growth in Fiji continued to be unchanged driven by strong domestic demand, which had led to buoyant imports while improvements had yet to be seen in the export sector. The situation was worsened by high oil prices.

According to the RBF, the decision supplements the recent actions by the RBF to slow the rise in credit and dampen demand by raising interest rates and tightening domestic liquidity.

To contain the potential impact these interest rate hikes have on investment spending, the RBF has issued lending guidelines to banks and credit institutions to continue to support priority sectors of the economy, particularly investment.

With interest rates on the lower to middle end of the spectrum in relation to Fiji's trading partners, the RBF is of the view that the level of interest rates in Fiji is not likely to deter investment spending in the economy.