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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bank of Baroda releases financial results for 2007

The Bank of Baroda, Fiji, has released its results for the financial year ending 31 March 2007 in a publication of its Key Disclosure Statement in the Fiji Times today, 31 July 2007. Of note are the following :
  • the bank's Fiji business (in terms of total assets) grew by 19.59% this year compared to 14.59% in the preceding financial year;
  • return on assets was 1.02% for the 2007 financial year compared to 1.78% in 2006;
  • capital adequacy ratio (a measure of the bank's capital against its risk weighted assets base) stood at 11.03% at end March 2007. It fell from 17.16% at the end of the same period in 2006;
  • The bank continued with its conservative business approach by having a larger proportion of its assets in Investments rather than in Loans. Investments formed 56.1% of the assets base while Loans made up 27.2% of assets;
  • Loans to Deposits ratio was only 29.5% at end March 2007 compared to 34.9% in 2006;
  • Net profit after tax was F$3.4 million in 2007. It fell from F$5.1 million which was recorded in 2006.

For more details, ask for a copy of the Key Disclosure Statement at any of Bank of Baroda's branches. Other banks should have copies of their Key Disclosure Statements at their branches.

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Oil prices to fall from 1 August 2007

Fuel oil prices will fall from 1 August 2007. The Prices and Incomes Board says this has come about following movements in world market prices in June.

The cost per litre of motor spirit is down by 7 cents while diesel prices fall by 2 cents. Premix outboard fuel will fall by 7 cents but there will be no change in the price of kerosene.

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More requests to restructure lending from Fiji businesses

Businesses in Fiji are experiencing difficulties in meeting their loan commitments and are approaching banks to structure their credit facilities.

Read more in an article in the Fiji Times today, 31 July 2007, which is reproduced below.

"Bankers see squeeze, Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A leading bank says many of its commercial clients are negotiating to defer interest payments or restructure their lending.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group general manger Fiji, Robert Bell, said most of the requests had come from business customers, not individuals.

He said a number of tourism operators were struggling. The bank had seen a gradual increase in requests from them to restructure lending.

The number of requests was still small but growing, he said. Following the events of December 2006, ANZ went out to its tourism-based customers and offered to review their loan arrangements.

Mr Bell said the bank's approach to all lending tended to be reasonably conservative.

"When times are booming it is sometimes hard for customers to understand why we might say 'no' to additional fund requests but over the long term these decisions protect customers as well as the bank," he said.

Westpac Banking Corporation said with a general decline in the economy certain segments of the business sector would find difficulty meeting loan repayments.

The bank's head of Credit and Operational Risk, Ashleigh Matheson, said the bank had taken a sympathetic approach to requests to convert loans to interest only while cash flows were depressed or under pressure.

"If the business cash flow is such that it will have difficulty meeting the principle repayments, there is little point in a bank not accommodating a request to move to interest only or even in some lowly geared businesses, an interest capitalisation period" Mr Matheson said.

"At the end of the day it is about supporting our good customers through difficult times not just being a 'fair weather' banker and deserting them when times are tough," he said.

Mr Matheson said the bank had noticed the impact of unemployment on its customer loans.

Many of these borrowers were employed in the construction and tourism segments of the economy and had little chance to find alternative employment until the economy improved, he said.

Mr Matheson said the construction sector had traditionally been driven by foreign investment.

He said while inquiries from offshore had been strong, proposed changes to non-resident borrowing regulations were making Fiji an unattractive proposition when compared to the alternatives available to these often large investors."

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ANZ Bank Fiji reduces interest rates

ANZ Bank Fiji has reduced its interest rates by 0.5%. The reductions take effect from 1 August 2007. This follows a 0.5% reduction which had taken place on 1 July 2007.

ANZ's actions follow continued improvement in liquidity positions of banks following a reduction in statutory reserve deposit required to be held with the Reserve Bank of Fiji as well as weak demand for credit in recent months.

The bank said that the improved liquidity also indicated a weak investment environment with low demand for investment related lending.

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ANZ Interest Rates (Updated 1.8.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by ANZ Fiji are as follows :
  • Business Index Rate - 11.50%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 11.00%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 9.00%;
  • Investment Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 11.00%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 9.00%;
  • Personal Loans : Secured - 12.20%, Unsecured - 14.20%;
  • Small Loans : Unsecured - 19.00%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 9 months to 1 year - 3.50%, 1 to 2 Years - 4.00%, 2 Years to 3 Years - 4.00%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by ANZ without prior notice.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Korean investors interested in Fiji

Investors from Korea have shown interest in setting up a bank and an alternative power generating venture in Fiji, according to the Ministry for Commerce.

Two companies, EZ Industries Corporation and Kyeryong Construction Company, have shown interest in alternative power generation from sugar and cassava. Korea has also shown interest in buying sugar from Fiji.

There has also been interest in other Fiji products including fish and fish products. Korea experiences shortage of fish and fish products, providing a potential export opportunity for Fiji fish.

A Korean bank has also indicated interest in setting up a banking/financial institution in Fiji to assist South Korean investors finance their projects in Fiji.

Kookmin Bank, hte largest bank in South Korea (based on asset value and market capitalisation), has indicated its interest in setting up business in Fiji.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Monetary Policy stance remains the same

The Reserve Bank of Fiji has decided to keep its monetary policy stance the same after its Board Meeting on Thursday, 26 July 2007. Here is a copy of the statement issued by the Reserve Bank of Fiji after the meeting last Thursday.


The Reserve Bank of Fiji Board decided to leave its current monetary policy unchanged at its monthly meeting on 26 July, 2007.

The Governor and Chairman of the Board, Mr Savenaca Narube noted that “Economic conditions have remained largely unchanged from the previous month. Latest data continues to suggest that the policy actions by the Bank are taking effect. Given the current economic downturn and the tight monetary policy, credit growth has slowed and imports have declined. Foreign reserves have stabilised and remain at an acceptable level.”

However, the Bank also notes that while imports have declined, it is not enough to close the large trade deficit. The poor performance of exports remains, hence, the outlook on the balance of payments will continue to shape the Bank’s monetary policy decisions.

Mr Narube also mentioned that “Inflation rose steadily throughout the first six months of the year and stood at 7.1 percent in June, largely underpinned by higher prices of food items”. He noted that “Supply constraints have pushed and held the prices of domestic market produce at very high levels, while at the same time drought-related supply shocks in Australia have also led to higher imported prices of wheat and dairy products in Fiji.”

Given these unexpected developments, the year-end inflation is now expected to be around 7 percent.

Nonetheless, the Bank recognises that the main factors that are pulling inflation upwards are supply related and therefore, do not warrant any monetary policy response. It is expected that inflation will ease in the coming year.

Reserve Bank of Fiji"

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Key Interest Rates Statistics

Here are some key interest rates statistics obtained from the Reserve Bank of Fiji Quarterly Review for March 2007 :
  • Weighted Average Lending Rates for Banks, 9.84% (the highest since 1997);
  • Weighted Average Time Deposit Rates for Banks, 8.73% (starting to fall after peaking at 9.05% in December 2006, however, the rate is on the high side going back to 1994 for which the data series starts);
  • Weighted Average Savings Deposit Rates for Banks, 0.98%;
  • Government Treasury Bills 91-day rate, 8.63%.

Copies of the Reserve Bank of Fiji's Quarterly Review can be bought at F$5.00 each for Fiji residents or for an annual subscription of between US$28.00 to US$59.00 (depending on country of residence) for overseas subscribers.

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Westpac to reduce interest rates

Westpac Banking Corporation will reduce its base business and consumer lending rates further by 0.5% effective 1 August 2007.

The reduction follows earlier reductions in interest rates by Westpac following an improvement in bank's liquidity positions which came about as a result of the reduction by 1% of the statutory deposits that banks are required to hold with the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

The reduction in loan interest rates will ease repayments and interest paid by the bank's customers.

Westpac has said that its rates would be the lowest in the banking system in Fiji after 1 August 2007.

Westpac and Colonial National Bank appear to be the market leaders in setting interest rates direction for banks in Fiji.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Colonial National Bank reduces rates further

Colonial National Bank has reduced its interest rates further.

The bank's business banking base rate has reduced by 0.5% from 11.70% to 11.20%.

Interest rates for residential property loans have already reduced by 0.5% with the variable rate now at 11.50%. The rates for investment property loans have also fallen by the same margin.

Term deposit rates have also fallen by a similar margin.

Please refer to the other entry on this blog today for details on the actual interest rates charged by Colonial National Bank.

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Colonial National Bank Interest Rates (Updated 25.7.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by Colonial National Bank are as follows :
  • Business Banking Base Rate - 11.20%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Variable Rate - 11.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 9.25%;
  • Investment Loan : Variable Rate - 11.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 9.25%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 9 months - 4.00%, 1 year - 4.10%, 1.5 Years - 4.25%, 2 Years - 4.25%, 3 Years - 4.25%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by the bank without prior notice.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Free-to-air television licences to be issued soon

Government will soon be issuing free-to-air television licences to companies that had indicated their interest in providing the service.

The Minister of Commerce has indicated that Government may grant licences to all 6 companies that indicated their interest if they all qualify. He said that he would rather leave it to the market to decide how many companies can be accommodated rather for Government to decide how many licences should be issued.

Competition and market forces would be left to determine how many companies will remain providing such services.

Currently, only Fiji Television provides free-to-air television services in Fiji.

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Foreign investors interested in wharves

Foreign investors are interested in upgrading and maintenance of wharves in Fiji. The investors who have shown interest are based in Dubai and manage 43 other wharves.

The form of investment being looked at will include joint ventures, build/own/transfer (BOT) or outright purchase of the wharves.

Foreign investors have also identified the slipway and shipyard in Fiji as areas where development was needed. A Korean investor is currently in Fiji looking at this with the intention of setting up the Fiji's slipway and shipyard to be where vessels from the Pacific, as well as from Fiji, are sent for repairs or maintenance.

Currently, vessels from Fiji are sent to New Zealand for repairs and maintenance.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fiji stock exchange update

Read an article below from the Fiji Times on Saturday, 21 July 2007, on the status of trades on the South Pacific Stock Exchange based in Suva, Fiji.

"SPSE market 'bear':CEO, Saturday, July 21, 2007

Investors on the South Pacific Stock Exchange have witnessed a "very bear market", with sellers outnumbering buyers over the last 12 months, says chief executive officer, Jinita Prasad.

Ms Prasad said a number of stocks hit their 52-week low prices. Market capitalisation had declined 23.6 per cent in value over the same period because many stocks remained with only sellers and no buyers.

"This was reflected in the volume traded over the period as well which fell significantly as many investors braced for further downward movement in prices," she said.

"While some stock prices might continue to fall in the near future, some stocks had also started to reach levels which might be attractive for speculative buyers and institutional investors to start accumulating at."

Ms Prasad said a long term investment in shares should not only be seen in the economical or political light or its volatility in the short term.

She said volatility in the short term was bound to exist in any market.

"In other words, prices move up and down in the short run, however generally trend upwards over the long term."

Ms Prasad said this was evident in some of the listed company share prices when seen over a three-to-five year period rather than the performance over the last six months only.

Market capitalisation dipped slightly by 0.4 percent by the end of the week.

Ms Prasad said the fall was due to the decline in share price of Foster's Group Pacific Ltd by approximately 0.3 per cent. "

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Civil service starts reforms

The civil service departments have started reforms to reduce their size and operating costs by 10%.

The permanent secretaries of the various departments have been asked to submit proposals and time lines on how they would restructure their ministries and departments to the Public Service Commission.

This comes at the time when there has been calls to reduce the size of the Public Service. The issue has plagued various Governments in Fiji with not much progress made towards reforms.

The former Government had started with restructuring lead positions from Permanent Secretaries to Chief Executive Officers. This has been reverted to what is was before by the Interim Government.

Some moves of corporatisation and privatisation of some Government entities had been made over the years but more has to be done.

For more information on this, you can contact the Fiji Public Services Commission on telephone (679) 3314588 or the Public Enterprises Department on telephone (679) 3315577.

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No VoIP Licences Issued by Government

Government has put out a notice saying that it has not issued any VoIP licences and that it is illegal to provide VoIP services to the public without a VoIP licence.

The notice comes amid wide advertising by Unwired Fiji, a Fiji Internet Service Provider, that it will be providing VoIP services over the coming months.

Please refer to the advertisement by Government below.


Government has noticed that some companies are publicly announcing that they hold VoIP licences and are selling VoIP services.

Government wishes to inform the General Public that NO VoIP licences have been issued and that it is illegal to provide VoIP services to the Public without VoIP licence.

The general public is therefore reminded that public advertisement and announcement that mislead the current status in the Industry will not be tolerated.

Entities that are doing such activities should cease immediately until they have valid VoIP licence.

Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment & Communications."

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Drop in Building Construction and Outlook in the Industry

There has been a 21% drop in buidling construction in Fiji in the first quarter of 2007 according to the Bureau of Statistics.

The Bureau said that of the F$59 million total construction projects, F$45 million was for the private sector while F$14 million related to the public sector.

F$43 million was for work done on new buildings and capital repairs.

The downturn in the building and construction industry may be attributed to high interest rates that were prevalent towards the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.

With interest rates beginning to fall again, we might expect some bottoming out of construction data over the next few months.

In the meantime, construction in Suva continues with work progressing on the Morris Hedstrom Towers, the Tappoo City project, the Great Council of Chiefs Building and Kadavu House. The completion of these large commercial projects would see a huge increase in commercial floor space over the next few months.

Whether there would be demand for such space is yet to be seen but given the current state of the economy, I would expect such demand to be low. This would mean a reduction of office rental rates over coming months.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fijian Holdings Unit Trust pays dividends

The Fijian Holdings Unit Trust (FHLUT) has paid out dividends which is an increase of 14.5% to what it paid out last year.

The two funds managed by FHLUT both recorded strong results over the last financial year. This included the property fund which recorded good results despite the impact of the removal earlier this year of dividend tax concessions enjoyed by investors in that fund.

The final dividend paid was 1.54 cents per unit for the financial year ended 30 June 2007. Total payout by the unit trust will be F$680,863.00.

In terms of returns, FHLUT recorded a dividend return of 4.96%, a capital growth return of 5.96%.

FHLUT's total funds under management is F$28 million. These are invested in a range of listed and unlisted companies, term deposits and Government guaranteed bonds.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Capital Markets Development Authority CEO emphasises Corporate Governance

The new Chief Executive Officer of the Capital Markets Development Authority, Mrs Mereia Volavola, has emphasised that good corporate governance is essential to improve accountability for companies operating in the capital markets.

Read more on her comments in an article from the Fiji Times below.

"Good governance key, Monday, July 16, 2007

Good corporate governance is essential to help companies and financial intermediaries improve accountability, says the new chief executive officer of the Capital Markets Development Authority, Mereia Volavola.

Speaking at her welcoming ceremony on Friday, she said financial intermediaries were essential in fostering financial stability and healthy economic growth.

Good corporate governance enabled more efficient use of capital and attracts quality and long-term investors at lower costs.

In the long run, the country's competitiveness and development will improve if good corporate governance is exercised.

Good governance is one area the CMDAwill focus on in the years ahead, Ms Volavola said.
She said many companies in Fiji were yet to fully appreciate how the stock and bond market works and how companies can benefit from it through enhanced company value and flexibility.

There are 16 companies listed on the Suva-based South Pacific Stock Exchange compared to six in 2000.

Market capitalisation, said Ms Volavola, rose from $243million in 2000 to $897million this year, representing a 269 per cent increase.

The CMDA she said, would continue its education program on the significance of the stock exchange.

"More companies need to be listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange. Some large companies the insurance companies, the commercial banks and tourism companies remain unlisted," Ms Volavola said.

"Experience to date shows that most companies continue to satisfy their capital needs predominantly by using retained earning, bank-funded debt or through private equity deals with associates and friends."

With the review of the CMDA legislation, Ms Volavola said there was a need for a balance between a regulatory framework that guides peoples actions and economic freedom that allows them to innovate, experiment and take risk.

"One of the most important factors in determining how much material progress a society made was its ability to maintain a vigorous capital market," she said.

"Creating prosperity had largely been a matter of bringing together people who are prepared to invest capital with people who are able to use it to create wealth.""

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

More trade and investment missions abroad

Further to missions to China and United Arab Emirates, Fiji will be going to Venezuela in August to further discuss areas of trade and investment where both countries can benefit from. This follows earlier discussions Fiji has had with Venezuela and Cuba.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mining exploration invitation

The Fiji Government is seeking expressions of interest from companies for the Tuvatu Exploration Project located at Nadi. The area covered totals 3,265 hectares. Written expressions of interest should be marked 'Confidential' and sent by Friday, 20 July 2007, to the following address :
  • Expression of Interest
  • The Director of Mines
  • Mineral Resources Department
  • Private Mail Bag
  • SUVA

For more information, pls call Venasio Nasara on telephone (679) 3381611 extension 433.

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WHO Study reveals kava is safe

A World Health Organisation (WHO) Study has said that kava is safe.

In the study the WHO has recommended that all kava products be available on prescription and not over the counter. It has also said that kava should not be used in patients with liver disease or a history of such or in patients that take excessive alcohol.

The news has been welcomed by the Fiji Kava Council that has been fighting recently against sanctions placed on exports placed on kava exports from Fiji to certain overseas countries.

Countries that had banned the import of kava included Germany, UK, France, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Australia recently banned the import for commercial purposes of kava and only allowed small quantities to be brought in by individuals for "ceremonial" purpose.

The WHO study should now provide more openings for the export of kava overseas from Fiji.

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Dubai Company interested in oil refinery

A Dubai based company is interested in setting up an oil refinery in Fiji and is conducting a feasibility study on the issue.

The interest was advised during a recent Fiji exploratory mission on trade and investment to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

In addition another Dubai company is also interested in setting up a financial institution in Fiji to provide the full range of merchant banking services. This company will be visiting Fiji soon to pursue the matter.

Meetings between Fiji representatives and those from Dubai revealed that there was an interest from Dubai for Fiji products such as fresh fish and fisheries products, processed and sawn timber, halal meat including poultry, beef and goat meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.

To facilitate market access into the United Arab Emirates, Dubai companies are also interested in assisting Fiji companies with infrastructure development, technical expertise and capital required to set up operations intended to provide consistent and timely supply of quality products.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Korean investors interested in bio-fuel

Korean investors are interested to explore opportunities of power supply through bio-fuels in Fiji, according to the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB).

The feedback followed a delegation led by the Interim Commerce Minister to Seoul, Korea, last week to attend a seminar.

Investors from the tourism, information, communications technology, banking and finance, ship building and repairs and infrastructure development including airport and seaport development, attended the seminar.

There is demand for Fiji-made products in Korea for products such as mineral water, sugar, fish products and sawn timber.

The Fiji delegation has since moved onto Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for similar discussions.

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Federated States of Micronesia and Palau trade mission to Fiji

The Federated States of Micronesia and Palau will have a trade mission to Fiji from 6 to 15 August 2007. The mission will coincide with the inaugural Pacific Islands Business Forum organised by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation.

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Trade & Investment Mission to China

The Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB) is organising a trade and investment promotion mission to China from 8 August to 18 August 2007. FTIB is seeking expressions of interest from companies that wish to :
  • attract strategic joint-venture partners in agriculture (agri-processing), marine (processing), forestry (value adding/manufacturing), ICT, tourism and other manufacturing sectors;
  • explore export opportunities for Fiji products into these countries;
  • source machinery, raw material, packaging material, building material, consumer products, etc to improve business efficiency and competitiveness of exports.

The mission will include site visits to key industries and one-to-one meetings with potential strategic joint-venture partners or investors and potential importers and distributors.

Participants will be responsible for their individual travel, accommodation and other related costs.

If you wish to participate, pls call Parnam Singh, FTIB on telephone number (679) 3315988.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Fiji Development Bank to be reviewed

The performance and operations of the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) are to be reviewed as approved by the Interim Cabinet. The special and detailed review of the FDB is to be conducted by the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fiji Development Bank's Choice Home Loan Facility

One of the most liberal home loans packages recently introduced in Fiji is that by Fiji Development Bank's Choice Home Loans. These are some of its features :
  • 50 year mortgage;
  • interest only payments mortgage; and
  • low doc loan.

From an individual's perpective, going into such a long term loan of 50 years has its drawbacks one of which is that by the time a person retires he would still have a loan outstanding to pay.

For instance, most home property buyers in Fiji use a part of their funds with the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) to help make up a deposit to buy their first residential property. For these people, they spend the first few years of their working life building up their FNPF to then be able to have enough to meet the deposit required for purchase of property.

This means that the majority of individuals would buy their first property when they are in their late twenties or early thirties.

If such a person takes a Choice Home Loan and its 50 year mortgage, they would have to make loan repayments until they are almost 80 years old when retirement age in Fiji is between 55 and 60.

On the other hand from an institutional perspective, locking funds into long term lending (such as the Choice Home Loan 50 year mortgage) while the majority of funding sources are short--term (between 1 and 3 year terms), places a huge strain on maturity matching of sources and uses of funds and the institution's asset-liability management. In short, it is not good as well for the institution that is providing it.

It would be good for the institution and the appropriate authorities look into the suitability of this particular product again. The institution may have its logic for offering such a product but as someone that has experience in the financial sector for over 17 years, I cannot really bring myself to understand it.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Westpac Interest Rates (Updated 2.7.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by Westpac Fiji are as follows :
  • Business Lending Rate - 11.49%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Variable Rate - 11.25%, 1 year Fixed Rate - 9.50%;
  • Investment Loan : Variable Rate - 11.25%, , 1 year Fixed Rate - 9.50%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 6 to less than 9 months - 3.75%, 9 months to less than 1 year - 3.75%, 1 year to less than 1.5 Years - 3.75%, 1.5 years to less than 2 Years - 3.75%, 2 years to less than 3 Years - 3.75%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by the bank without prior notice.

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Mereia Volavola takes over at CMDA

Mrs Mereia Volavola takes over as Chief Executive Officer at the Capital Markets Development Authority from today, Monday 2 July 2007. Mrs Volavola previously worked at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Home Finance Company Limited and Housing Authority. She has over 16 years of experience in the financial sector in Fiji. Mrs Volavola has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and Economics from the University of the South Pacific and a Master of Business Administration with Honours in Banking & Finance from the University of Bangor, Wales, United Kingdom. Mrs Volavola's husband is currently Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau (FTIB). We wish Mrs Volavola well in her new career.

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More Fijians investing in the stock market

The Capital Markets Development Authority (CMDA) says that more indigenous Fijians are investing in the unit trust and stock markets compared to other ethnic groups.

CMDA said that about 64% of investors in the unit trust market are indigenous Fijians while other residents comprised 36%.

The analysis done by CMDA is interesting is that it may mean the following :
  1. confirms that indigenous Fijians are passive investors who when they do invest leave their investments as they are for years without active monitoring of the investment's performance and the markets;
  2. Fijians are still not very well educated in terms of finance and financial matters hence the reliance on professional fund managers, such as unit trusts, to manage their investments for them;
  3. other races in Fiji use their own savings to set up their own businesses rather than give it to others to use (such as that done by indigenous Fijians);
  4. viewed from a different perspective, the above point could also suggest that Fijians are funding the businesses owned by other races (e.g. investment in businesses majority owned by other races which are listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange, Suva, Fiji).

Further analysis may need to be done by the CMDA to dig into what is behind the statistics it has given out.

Read the commentary on CMDA's review in a Fiji Times article below.

"More Fijians invest in stock market, Saturday, June 30, 2007

More indigenous Fijians are investing in the unit trust and stock market compared to other ethnic groups, says the Capital Markets Development Authority chief executive Suren Kumar.

Mr Kumar said market statistics showed that about 64 per cent of the investors in the unit trust market are indigenous Fijians, while other Fijian citizens and residents comprised 36 per cent.

Mr Kumar said the new trend for Fijians towards investing was heartening and should be supported. "Apart from individuals, a substantial number of provincial and tikina-owned companies, vanua and communal groups also invest in the unit trust and stock market," he said.

Mr Kumar said this as the CMDA launched the Fijian version of "Investing for retirement" (Na vakatubu i lavo me baleta na tiko marau ena gauna ni vakacegu mai na cakacaka) and another booklet, Why should you invest (Na cava na vuna mo vakatubu I lavo kina) this week.

He said financial literacy was fundamental to market development.

This corresponds with the Bureau of Statistics 2002-2003 Household and Income Expenditure Survey which indicates that in aggregate, indigenous Fijian households are saving some 18 per cent of their incomes with little differences between the major ethnic groups.

However, Mr Kumar said the same report highlighted that only 13 percent of indigenous Fijians over the age of 54 considered themselves as retired compared to 26 per cent to 28 per cent of other Fiji citizens.

"These statistics support some of our concerns and initiative to translate and publish the Fijian version of 'investing for retirement' as the statistics indicated some indigenous Fijians could not retire completely because of their financial obligations to their families and communities," he said.

He said there w as a greater need for more indigenous Fijians to plan for their retirement earlier in their working lives.

"We hope many will take advantage of these publications and take time to learn fundamentals and seek advice from licensed advisers, brokers or unit trust representatives before making any investing decision," he said."

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FNPF pays members 6.3% interest

The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) has paid its members 6.3% interest for the financial year ended 30 June 2007. The total payout is F$128.9 million.

The Fund states that the payout was generous given the current state of the economy.

More on this when we receive a copy of the Fund's annual accounts.

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