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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.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Links taken off

We have taken off the links at the right hand side of this blog for Properties on Mortgagee Sale/Foreclosure in Fiji. Instead, you can now subscribe to our Yahoo Group FijiSale by entering your e-mail address and clicking on the "Join now" button at the top of this blog. Make use of our new service and join our Yahoo Group now.

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Flour Mills of Fiji records a loss

Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF), a company listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange, has recorded a loss of F$1.2 million for the six months ended 31 December, 2006. For the same period the previous year, the company had recorded a profit of F$1.3 million.

The loss has been attributed to increases in wheat prices - an ingredient used in making flour and other products that the company makes. Increases in fuel and freight costs, electricity charges and borrowing cost also contributed to the negative growth.

No dividends has been declared for the period.

The company is working in increase in the price of flour, restructuring and cost control as measures to improve its performance for the next six months.

Note : Readers who require investment advice can contact our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, for assistance. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Banks make more investments and the need for more competition

Banks in Fiji are markedly making more investments into the country with the opening of a branch by Colonial National Bank at Namaka, Nadi, an outlet by Westpac at the University of the South Pacific and with ANZ's million dollar acquisition of a bank at Guam.

With record profits registered by the two largest banks, ANZ and Westpac, for the financial year ended 30 September 2006, this has put them in good stead to be able to make more investment into the economy.

However, with high interest margins and spreads, there is still scope for more competition with the market presumably able to accommodate one or two large players who can help drive competition.

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Colonial National Bank - Interest Rates on Investment Property Loans

Colonial National Bank's interest rate on investment property loans is 11.0% per annum for the first 18 months. The same rate is applied for owner occupied residential property loans.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ANZ Interest Rates (Updated 27.2.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by ANZ Fiji are as follows :
  • Business Index Rate - 12.75%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 12.25%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 10.25%;
  • Investment Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 12.25%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 10.25%;
  • Personal Loans : Secured - 12.95%, Unsecured - 14.95%;
  • Small Loans : Unsecured - 19.00%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 9 months to 1 year - 6.00%, 1 to 1.5 Years - 8.00%, 1.5 to 2 Years - 6.25%, 2 Years to 3 Years - 6.25%.

Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by ANZ without prior notice.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Australian Investors come in

A group of Australian investors looking at investing a total of F$800 million in Fiji will be coming in this week to discuss the implementation of their projects with the Interim Government. The investors representing propose to invest in the production of film and TV, integrated hotel and resort development, manufacturing sheepskin products, paper, water bottling plant and pearl farming.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance to set up business in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. We can also assist with advice on sectors that show potential for investment and arrange domestic financing for projects. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj and telephone (679) 3396427.

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More Links in Fiji

We have put in more links to the land authorities, banks, development and other finance companies in Fiji at the right hand side of this blog to improve your access to information on the financial sector and land resources. If you have any further links, submit them to us and we will put them up for you on the condition that you also link to our blog from your website.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Subscribe to our Yahoo Group

Subscribe to our Yahoo Group which lists properties on mortgagee sale/foreclosure in Fiji. With the economy slowing and the continued environment of high interest rates, more and more properties will come to market. This provides an opportunity to buy properties at a good price (at mostly below their valuation). If you wish to obtain more information on a specific property or get assistance to place a tender as well as financing for your purchase, drop us an e-mail at gilbert@connect.com.fj or call telephone (679) 3396427. We will be happy to help you. Fill in your e-mail address in the form at the top of this blog to subscribe to our Yahoo Group.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cassava - Another potential crop for export

Cassava prices have shot up in recent months in Fiji. Suva market vendors are now saying that the price of cassava, which is a staple diet for Fijians, have gone up dramatically. They said that a bag of cassava that used to cost F$15.00 to F$20.00 from farmers, has shot up to F$40.00 to F$50.00 a bag. The increase in prices may be due to some exporters now buying, processing and exporting the crop. A big buyer now is the FMF Group of Companies for its new brand of Cassava chips.

The crop provides a potential commodity for export from Fiji.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance on setting up business or investing in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Fiji Breadfruits : An export potential

Another crop that is in demand overseas are Fiji's breadfruits. The taste and quality of Fiji breadfruit is supposedly highly preferred in overseas markets with 6 tonnes of its exported last year. This year another 6 to 7 tonnes are estimated to be exported. Export prices are between F$1.80 to F$2.00 per kilogram.

In light of a shortage of breadfruit due to the increase in demand for canned breadfruit overseas, there is a market potential here for investors. Canned breadfruit are exported to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Currently, farmers from Sigatoka, Verata and the Tailevu area are suppliers of breadfruit. Farmers who wish to supply fresh breadfruit to exporters needed to register their farm under Bilateral Quarantine Agreement (BQA) to ensure that they adhere to the quarantine and export requirements.

Out of the 20 different varieties of breadfruits in Fiji only two varieties, Uto Dina and Balekana, are being exported.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance to set up business in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Investors come in for FIT project

Investors will now be coming in for the Fiji Institute of Technology's (FIT) project to build a campus, training hospital and retirement village at Delainavesi, near Suva. The project had earlier been halted as a result of the political crisis. FIT is now finalising a lease over the subject and has provided and has provided all information required by the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau. The investors are from South Korea.

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Properties on Mortgagee Sale in Fiji

Check out our new service through links at the right hand side of this blog. With the new services, we will be bringing you advertisements of properties (residential and commercial) that are on mortgagee sale/foreclosure in Fiji. With the slowing of the economy and high interest rates, more properties will be on the market. If you are interested with a particular property, e-mail us on gilbert@connect.com.fj or call telephone (679) 3396427. We can assist you by getting you more information on the property and also arrange financing.

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New Investors for Gold Mine

The Emperor Gold Mine at Vatukoula is currently looking at indications of interest from foreign investors to take over its operations at Vatukoula. The company operating the gold mine will be selling off its operations with assets valued at around F$88 million. On geological studies with regard to whether gold deposits still exist at Vatukoula, companies may wish to contact the Emperor Gold Mine or the Ministry of Mineral Resources. In latest developments, the company said that it will be making its final redundancy payment of F$5 million to all former mine workers today, Thursday, 22 February 2007. F$2.5 million has already been paid out in redundancy payments over the past few weeks.

In the meantime, Government has set aside F$600,000.00 for an alternative livelihoods project to assist former mine workers. The program will look at reskilling workers to be able to do small businesses to take up other jobs.

A Canadian mining company is also scoping out potential skills among former mine workers who can take up jobs at mines in Canada.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance with setting up business or investing in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427. We can assist with securing all permits, approvals required for setting up business and also arrange local financing for projects.

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Dry dock facility delivered to Suva

A dry dock facility was delivered to Suva a few days ago and will be used by Fiji Ship Building and Heavy Industries Limited, a government corporation for ship repairing services. The facility was bought after an independent study revealed that there was scope for Fiji to offer ship repairing services rather than ship building. However, from my own discussions with members of the public, I would suggest that there is also a demand for ship building services in Fiji. It would, however, have to focus on the construction of small to medium sized boats and launches which is in demand with the rural communities in Fiji. There is also a scope for Fiji to improve and offer large containerised storage parks where international companies can store their goods conveniently awaiting orders from Pacific or Asian countries where they could then be delivered. Fiji's favourable location along major sea routes and being in an area of the Pacific close to Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific Islands and Asia, would stand it in good stead for such business. Foreign investors who are in this industry may wish to look into that possibility.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Government emphasises exports, agriculture and rural development

The Interim Government is expected to complete financial management reforms in the public service by June 2007. Part of the reform will see to financial information for all ministries being centralised so that they can be monitored daily.

In a discussion yesterday, the Interim Minister for Finance said that the immediate challenges for the Fiji economy varied from the decline in exports to developments in agriculture and the rural sector.

Changes in strategy, policy and resource allocation to these sectors are expected to be announced in the National Budget to be announced early March 2007. More incentives are expected to be provided to the export sector. More emphasis are also expected to be placed on agriculture and rural development with regard to using Fiji's natural resources and putting them to more productive use.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Immigration Department looks at maintaining deadlines for processing Work Permits

The Immigration Department has announced that it will work hard to maintain its deadline of 14 days for processing Work Permits for foreign investors and expatriates. The 14 day deadline was put in place when Government agencies streamlined investment approvals processes a few years ago. Since then the Department has had an uphill battle to meet the deadlines. The new announcement will help breathe a sign of relief to some foreign investors and expatriates who have had to wait up to two months to obtain work permits. It should augur well for Government in its intent to attract foreign investors.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance to get all the necessary approvals/permits and licences to set up business in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sectors that could revive Fiji's exports

Six sectors have been identified by the Ministry of Commerce as key to reviving Fiji's exports. The sectors identified include :
  • forestry;
  • agro-business;
  • marine products;
  • audio visual;
  • information, communications and technology (ICT); and
  • mineral water.
These areas have been singled out by the Interim Government for more focus.

Most of these areas already have tax and other incentives put in place by government. However, it would be interesting to see what the Interim Government puts in its National Budget to be released in early March 2007.

Note : Foreign investors that need assistance on investing in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Land sales involving foreign buyers back

Foreign buyers may now buy and sell land and property in Fiji again after the military halted land title transfers for a fortnight late last year. The Interim Government has now reinstated the ability to freely buy and sell land and property in Fiji. The freeze late last year had sent worrying signals to foreign investors who wanted to buy property in Fiji.

In the meantime, banks in Fiji remain tight with liquidity and there may be some problems with seeking domestic financing for investment projects.

Our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, has access to other financiers who may be able to assist if foreign investors meet their requirements. If you require this assistance, contact our company by e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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Air Pacific plans flights to Vancouver, Canada

Air Pacific is planning to have codeshare flights to Vancouver, Canada, via Honolulu, Hawaii, from 30 March 2007. The proposal is being looked at with interest by Fiji businesses as it opens up tourist and export markets in Canada for Fiji.

Note : Foreign investors who wish to invest in Fiji can use our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, for assistance. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephone (679) 3396427.

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More construction planned for Suva foreshore

More reclamation and construction is planned for the Suva foreshore. Carpenters Group is planning a F$200 million project that will see to more development along Suva's foreshore. Read more on this story on our Promoting Suva blog.

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Dual citizenship being considered

The Interim Government is now considering offering dual citizenship to former residents of Fiji. In the plan, former residents will be given Permanent Residency in Fiji. The move is supposedly to encourage former Fiji citizens to invest, work and conduct business in Fiji on the same basis as Fiji citizens.

Note : Former Fiji residents who wish to invest in Fiji can contact our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited for assistance. Our contact details are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj and telephone (679) 3396427.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings declares F$12.6 million dividend

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) has declared an interim dividend of F$12.6 million (or 3 cents per share) for the six months ended 30 September 2006. The group's two largest shareholders, Fiji National Provident Fund and Government will receive F$7.4 million and F$4.4 million, respectively.

Profits after tax for that period was F$21.3 million.

The declaration of the interim dividends was based on expectations by the group that it will deliver a satisfactory result for the full year ended 31 March, 2007.

ATH is listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange.

Note : For individuals or groups requiring investment advice, our principal, Gilbert Veisamasama Jr, can provide you with assistance. Gilbert is licensed as an Investment Advisor by the Capital Markets Development Authority. To contact us, e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or call telephones (679) 3396427 or (679) 9921427.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cultural Centre built at Viseisei village

A cultural centre, The Source Cultural Centre, is being built at Viseisei Village, outside Lautoka to show tourists who pass through the village the various traditions and customs of Fijian people.

The project will see to the construction of a reception bure, demonstration bure, restaurant and four self-contained accommodation units.

Tourists that visit the village will be able to see Fijian tradition and culture in a village setting when they visit the Centre. There will be demonstrations throughout the day on mat weaving and basket making.

Also part of plans for the Centre is a double-storey restaurant with a seating capacity for 100 diners.

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Fiji needs to widen its agricultural export base

Fiji needs to diversity its agricultural export base rather than relying on traditional exports such as sugar. The comment was made by a senior agricultural officer.

The officer said more attention needed to be given to other products such as duruka and taro given that the demand for these products were very high overseas as a result of the high proportion of Fijian and Pacific Islands populations in countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The officer said that most produce could be exported, however, the only thing that local producers needed to work on was the quality of exports to ensure its marketability.

The comments were made at a good quality standards workshop held in Suva Monday, 5 February 2007.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Fiji Times picks on banks profits story blogged earlier

The Fiji Times has today picked up on a story we had provided earlier on this blog with regard to banks profiting from the Reserve Bank of Fiji's monetary policy and its interest rates hikes over the last two years. More on our story is provided at http://investinfiji.blogspot.com/2007/01/anz-and-westpac-make-huge-profits-under.html and http://investinfiji.blogspot.com/2007/01/conclusionslessons-from-anz-and.html.

Here is the Fiji Times story in full.

"PROFITS made by the two largest foreign banks operating in Fiji are at the expense of the people, says retailers head, Himmat Lodhia.

The Fiji Retailers Association president was commenting on profit figures released by the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Westpac Banking Corporation Ltd last month.

Mr Lodhia said uncontrolled and unnecessary increases in fees and the introduction of new fees and charges had been a hall mark of the semi-monopolistic banking system in Fiji.

He said the interest rate increase factors suggested by the Reserve Bank of Fiji were applied by banks with a multiplying factor.

"This has broken down a lot of small and medium business. Most small and medium businesses are digging into their own resources to survive," said Mr Lodhia.

He said the ousted Government had planned to impose stricter conditions, regulations and having a full-time banking ombudsman.

"It is high time these things were put in place," he said.

Mr Lodhia said the business community would like to see the appointment of a banking ombudsman or at least a committee under the ministry of finance that could scrutinise bank fees and charges.

A former manager/advisor at the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Gilbert Veisamasama Junior, said RBF's interest rate increases had resulted directly in the banks gaining.

He said this had happened at the expense of consumers who paid higher interest rates for basic necessities including a roof over their heads.

Mr Veisamasama, who worked at the central bank for 16 years, said RBF's reasons for its hikes were to contain consumption and to protect foreign reserves.

However, he said the measures had contributed more to financial hardships for ordinary citizens.

He said the same foreign reserves the RBF wanted to protect would be further depleted when the two banks remitted their entire profits of over $73million to their head offices abroad as was their usual practice being branch banks.

Westpac made an after tax operating profit of $30.15million for the year to September 2006.
ANZ recorded a net profit after tax of $42.9million for the same period.

Westpac general manager Fiji David Evans said the bank continued to re-invest in Fiji and had not repatriated all of its profits as suggested.

Mr Evans said the bank had increased the amount of capital it has re-invested in Fiji from $59million in 2005 to $81million in 2006, an increase of $22million.

"Furthermore, total income taxes paid and payable by Westpac for the year was $13.4m in 2006 and $10.8m in 2005," said Mr Evans.

He said banking services were provided through the depositing and re-lending of money from customers either individuals, commercial or government organisations.

"To operate a bank profitably and securely for the economic soundness of the country, a margin must be earned between deposits and loans," said Mr Evans.

"Over the past year, tight liquidity has meant an increase in both deposit and lending interest rates which the banks have worked hard to absorb as much as possible resulting in a narrowing of net interest margins," he said.

ANZ general manager Fiji, Robert Bell said the 18 per cent growth in the bank's underlying profit was the result of credit growth, the strength of the Fiji economy in 2006 and market shares in a number of areas.

Mr Bell said the bank continued to develop its business for the benefit of customers, staff and the community.

He said the bank had invested profits to improve its service in Fiji by extending branch opening hours, refurbishing existing branches and installing more Automated Teller Machines."


We expect to see more writeups on this subject matter after this. Let us hope that the authorities take up the recommendations made in our earlier story.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

FTIB urges Government to maintain investment policies

The Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau has urged the Interim Government to maintain current investment policies. The Bureau said that foreign investors are familiar with the current policies therefore there was a need to maintain them. This would keep foreign investors interest in investing in Fiji.

FTIB's Chief Executive Officer, Ms Lailun Khan, says that interest in investing in Fiji is getting off the ground again. A large agricultural project is to be put up by a Chinese Government investment at Navua over the next few months. The Chinese Government body is presently negotiating a deal with landowners there.

For more information on Fiji's current investment policy, pls visit http://www.ftib.org.fj/.

In the meantime, the Interim Government is currently working on a revised National Budget which will be announced in early March. The actual form the country's investment policy takes will be clearer then.

Foreign investors that require assistance with setting up in Fiji can contact our company, Gilbert & Samuels Company Limited, for assistance. Our contacts are : e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj or telephones +679 3396427 or +679 9921427.

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