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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.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2008 Fiji National Budget

The 2008 National Budget was delivered by the Minister of Finance on Friday, 23 November 2007. The Budget has some very favourable aspects that help with those running businesses or intending to set up businesses in Fiji. For a copy of the Budget, you can subscribe to our fijisale Yahoo Group and look under the Files section of the Group. A copy of the 2007 Revised Budget is also there for comparison. To subscribe to our Yahoo Group, just enter your e-mail address in the form at the top of this blog and click on the "Join Now!" button.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Fiji-Australia Business Council : 2007 Business Forum

The Fiji-Australia Business Council is holdling its 2007 Business Forum from 2 to 4 December 2007 at the Radisson Resort, Denarau, Nadi. The theme for the Forum is "Business - Driving the Way Forward". Keynote speakers include :
  • Murray Proctor, Australia's Ambassador for HIV/AIDS on "HIV/AIDS in the workplace";
  • Greg Urwin, Secretary General, Forum Secretariat, on "Regional Trade Agreements";
  • Sada Reddy, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of Fiji on "Economic State of the Nation";
  • Amy Auster, ANZ Head of International Economics, on "Fiji Economic position in the Region"; and
  • Jaindra Kumar, Fiji's Trade Commissioner to Australia on "Growing our Exports".

Topics to be covered include :

  • The Economy;
  • Emerging Opportunities
  • Growing our Exports
  • Regulatory Issues
  • The Knockout Blow
  • What would change everything
  • Where to from here.

For mroe information and to book a place, pls visit Fiji-Australia Buisness Council's website on http://www.fabc.com.fj/ or call Sonal on telephone (679) 3315988 extension 243.

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ANZ Interest Rates (Updated 1.12.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by ANZ Fiji are as follows :
  • Business Index Rate - 11.00%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 10.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Investment Loan : Standard Variable Rate - 10.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Personal Loans : Secured - 12.20%, Unsecured - 14.20%;
  • Small Loans : Unsecured - 19.00%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 9 months to 1 year - 1.25%, 1 to 2 Years - 1.75%, 2 Years to 3 Years - 1.75%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by ANZ without prior notice.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Telecommunications Sector Opens Up : More joy for businesses

It has been a good week for businesses in Fiji with the telecommunications sector opened up this week.

The week has seen all stakeholders including Government and the three sole telecommunications providers agreeing on some formula for compensating providers for cancellation of the monopoly rights that they have over the industry.

During the week, we have also seen two companies given licences to operate Voice-Over-Internet Protocol services in Fiji which will see calls overseas falling substantially. One of these companies, Connect Fiji, says in an advertisement in the Fiji Times, Thursday, 22 November 2007, that international calls will fall by up to 60% when its Broadband customers use its new VoIP service which will be available from Monday, 26 November 2007. To access the service, Connect's Broadband customers can dial 021 + country code + overseas number, using their Telecom Fiji telephone line.

Another company has also been granted mobile telephony licence and will soon be introducing its services. The company, Inkk, from Australia is, however, using Vodafone Fiji's network and will pay a charge for use of the network.

Internet charges by one of the providers, Connect Fiji, has seen speeds and download limits doubled with rates remaining the same making them one of the best in this area.

Over recent days, we have heard of more new products and services being offered, either by the existing companies or by the newly licensed ones. That is basically the effect of competition, when service providers will need to have good and innovative product development areas which will continually test the boundaries of services in terms of quality, range of services, to be on the one-up at all times in relation to one's competitors.

Businesses will benefit more as telecommunication rates reduce, markets will open up, bringing in more business.

For this at least we thank the authorities for taking action on some of the things that we have been hearing for many years.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fiji National Provident Fund : our new client

We have just secured Fiji's largest financial institution, the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF), as a new client. FNPF controls around 40% of total financial system assets in Fiji and is currently the only superannuation provider in Fiji.

For FNPF, we are facilitating workshops for staff and managers and later the executive management and the Board of Directors to develop a new Strategic Plan for the Fund covering the financial years ending June 2009, 2010 and 2011.

We are currently using a Strategic Planning model that we designed for this project.

Mr Nacanieli Rika, lecturer in Accounting and Finance, University of the South Pacific, is assisting us with this project.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Connect to double speed for same price

Connect Fiji, one of Fiji's Internet Services Providers, will double the broadband speeds and data caps for their various packages from 16 November 2007. All rates will remain the same.

This means that a customer that currently enjoys a 128K speed broadband package will now enjoy a 256K speed package at the same rate of F$39.50 a month.

Further reductions will be expected from other Internet Services Providers following Connect's lead.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Government opens up telecommunications sector

Government has opened up the telecommunications sector.

Currently, Government is in the process of negotiating a compensation package for the monopoly provider of telecommunications services in the country, with the assistance of technical experts from the World Bank. This is expected to be completed by 20 November 2007.

Compensation may be in cash or other form.

The three companies that currently hold exclusive licenses in the telecommunications sector in Fiji are FINTEL (international calls), Telecom Fiji (domestic fixed line) and Vodafone (mobile).

The opening of the telecommunications sector will bring in more competition as more players are permitted to set up operations in Fiji.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Bank of Baroda to introduce ATMs

The Bank of Baroda will introduce ATMs for the first time throughout its 8 branches Fiji wide by the 2nd week of January 2008. The bank is now calling for applications for ATM cards with the cards being offered free of charge. For more information, pls call the bank's Suva branch on telephone (679) 3311400.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Governor says that Fiji needs a sound financial system

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Savenaca Narube, has said that Fiji needs a sound financial system.

Having in place a sound financial system requires a set of preconditions, principal among which is the need for a stable political environment. Other requirements include having good regulatory and financial structures, good fiscal and monetary policy, transparency and good corporate governance among players in the financial sector.

Fiji has been fortunate to be able to attract foreign investment even with our past history. We have also been able to finance our development from domestic funds with institutions such as a Fiji National Provident Fund acting as a captive source of financing. However, we need to understand that we need to compete for the investment dollar. If we do not have in place the essential preconditions, we will not be able to continue to attract that foreign investment dollar.

Whether Fiji has these preconditions in place is subject to a good debate and I will not delve into that except to say that Fiji may lose out its prominence in the financial sector arena to other countries in the region such as Papua New Guinea and Samoa if we do not get up, review where we are, decide on where we want to go and move forward. I am talking here about financial sector development and planning.

In the meantime, I provide below a copy of an article in the Fiji Times on the comments made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.


"Governor: Fiji needs a sound financial system, Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Savenaca Narube says the country needs a sound and efficient financial system along with political stability to bridge the investment gap.

Mr Narube said with the 2008 Budget to be announced in two weeks, they were looking forward for better economic policies that would take the nation forward.

Mr Narube said a policy framework that would push the private sector as the "growth locomotion" had to be put in place.

He said if the private sector was to play its role, it needed certainty and predictability.

Speaking at the opening of the Rooster's Poultry Farm in Navau, Ba on Thursday evening, Mr Narube said the country's balance of payment was still an issue of concern.

Mr Narube said Fiji was losing a lot of money as the country's traditional exports had not performed well over the year.

"Collectively, exports of sugar, garment and gold are lower by $400million from their peak year and that is a lot of money to loose."

"This has been made worse by the rise in oil price which broke over $US90 per barrel recently.

"Our major policy challenge is clearly to address our widening trade deficit.

"Our policies of dampening import demand seem to be taking effect.

"However, the key is not so much to discourage imports but rather to grow our exports and we should continue to work hard at achieving this," he said.

He said an encouraging trend was the reduction in inflation.

He said they expected inflation to drop to at least 3.5 per cent by the end of the year. He said Government debt had increased to more than 54 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and he would like to wish government well in their commitment to bring it below 50 per cent.

He also said while they were working very hard to improve investment as a catalyst of economic growth, they were expecting a drop by the end of the year.

Mr Narube said even though they had thrown in the figure of 25 per cent of GDP as a possible target, they were estimating it to fall back to about 15 per cent of GDP by the end of the year.

He said there was a lot of ground to cover and there were a host of factors such as political stability and economic fundamentals that had to be implemented in order to achieve it."

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Fiji Development Bank Interest Rates (Updated 1.11.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by Fiji Development Bank are as follows :
  • Residential Property Loan : Variable Rate - 10.25%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 8.25%;
  • Investment Loan : Variable Rate - 10.75%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by the bank without prior notice.

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Colonial National Bank Interest Rates (Updated 3.11.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by Colonial National Bank are as follows :
  • Business Banking Base Rate - 10.20%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Variable Rate - 10.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Investment Loan : Variable Rate - 10.50%, 1 Year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 9 months - 2.60%, 1 year - 2.00%, 1.5 Years - 2.00%, 2 Years - 2.00%, 3 Years - 2.00%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by the bank without prior notice.

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Home Finance Company reduces term deposit rates

Home Finance Company Limited, a deposit taking institution licensed by the Reserve Bank of Fiji, has reduced its 1 year term deposit rates to 3.75%, with effect from 1 November 2007. This rate is more than what the banks offer for the same term. For more information, pls contact your nearest Home Finance Company branch or check interest rates charged by other banks on this blog.

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Westpac Interest Rates (Updated 1.11.07)

Schedule of interest rates released by Westpac Fiji are as follows :
  • Business Lending Rate - 10.49%;
  • Residential Property Loan : Variable Rate - 10.25%, 1 year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Investment Loan : Variable Rate - 10.25%, , 1 year Fixed Rate - 8.50%;
  • Retail Term Deposits : 6 to less than 9 months - 1.25%, 9 months to less than 1 year - 1.75%, 1 year to less than 1.5 Years - 1.75%, 1.5 years to less than 2 Years - 1.75%, 2 years to less than 3 Years - 1.75%.
Interest rates are on a per annum basis and may be varied by the bank without prior notice.

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New Financial Services Commission to be set up

The Interim Cabinet has approved the establishment of a new Financial Services Commission.

The Commission will regulate the level of fees and charges imposed by financial institutions in Fiji.

The idea of a Financial Services Commission arose out of the 1998 Financial System Inquiry after considering complaints by customers on the 'exorbitant' fees, charges and interest rates levied by financial institutions in Fiji.

The Interim Minister for Finance has said that there is a lack of competition in the financial sector in Fiji which has resulted in high bank profits, high user charges, excessive margins and poor services standards.

The Commission is to work together with other financial services regulators in Fiji which include the Reserve Bank of Fiji, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Capital Markets Development Authority.

Yesterday, bankers have said that there was no need for another regulator as they felt that the Reserve Bank of Fiji is adequately supervising the area of bank fees and charges.

Perhaps a comprehensive customer survey of banking and other financial services customers would best reveal the demand for a financial services commission.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

E-mails Working Again

My e-mails are working again. You can now use investinfiji@gilbert.com.fj again. If you have any problems, use gilbertv2@gmail.com. The problems were fixed after I transferred hosting services to Internet Fiji, away from Connect Fiji.

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Fiji Water acquires Neptune Shipping

Natural Waters of Viti, the producers of the Fiji Water brand, have acquired Neptune Shipping company. The acquisition is part of the company's plans to continue to meet the global demand for its products and builds upon its already substantial presence in the region.

Neptune Shipping was established in 1997 to provide liner and bulk shipping services and agency functions in trades between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

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Yatu Lau Initial Public Offering

The Yatu Lau Company Limited, a successful property development company, which was initially set up by the late President and Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, for the people of his province, has made its initial public offering.

Each share is being sold at F$1.50 - a large discount to what it is actually valued at.

The initial public offering closes on 30 November 2007.

To assist members of the public with their questions on the company and to issue copies of the company's Prospectus, the issue manager, Kontiki Capital, is organising the following public sessions during business hours on Wednesday, 7 November 2007 :
  • at the Fiji Development Bank branch, Main Street, Nadi;
  • at the Fiji Development Bank branch, 38 Vitogo Parade, Lautoka;
  • at the Fiji Development Bank branch, Main Street, Ba;
  • at the Kontiki Capital Office, Level 4, Plaza 1, FNPF Boulevard, Suva;
  • at the Yatu Lau Office, Yatu Lau Arcade, Rodwell Road, Suva.

For more information, pls call a Kontiki licensed broker representative on telephone (679) 3307284 or (679) 9922923.

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