Jan 18, 2018 Last Updated 10:47 PM, Jan 14, 2018

Fiji urged to reopen credit bureau

THE Fijian Government will need to improve its land lease processes if it has to create a business friendly environment for the private sector, says the International Monetary Fund. And the IMF projects that Fiji’s economy would grow by around 3.5 per cent in the coming year and would maintain that growth in the medium term.

Improving land lease processes is one of the few conditions the team from the IMF who were recently in Fiji suggested to government from their preliminary findings on their annual country surveillance.

Murphy said in order for the private sector to thrive which would in turn drive economic recovery, conditions must be put in place to improve the business environment. While Murphy and his team acknowledged the existing mechanisms to use land and several efforts by the Fiji Government to improve leases like the introduction of a land bank, they heard from the private sector that lease processes were lengthy and time consuming.

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ADB to loan Fiji $341.1m

Confidence in Fiji economy

THE Asian Development Bank has earmarked $341.1million in firm and tentative investments between 2018-2020. The ADBs country operations plan for Fiji 2018-2020 reveals this funding will be directed to three specific areas. Of the amount, $180million will be to facilitate private-sector-led growth - $50 million will be co-financed from the World Bank.

In 2019, the ADB will provide $111.1million towards an Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Investment Program. Co-financiers of this project will be the European Investment Bank, the Green Climate Fund, and the Fijian Government. By 2020, $50million will be allocated for a potential new transport (ports) infrastructure investment.

The ADB has confidence in the Fijian economy, according to the operations plan document. “Since 2014, total investment in Fiji has exceeded the government’s target of 25per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), largely driven by higher public expenditure to address infrastructure gaps, particularly in transport and water and sanitation,” says the ADB report.

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Using and misusing GDP

What the figures really say about Fiji’s economy

IF Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing at 4 per cent per year, the public can normally conclude that this is “good for Fiji people” but it is “not good” if GDP is growing at only 1 per cent or minus one per cent. With most people not know what GDP really means, they also do not know if the GDP data is being used incorrectly, incorrectly, or sometimes deliberately misrepresented in order to mislead the public.

The public should smell a statistical rat when a government highlights GDP figures only when they appear “good” while ignoring or suppressing “bad GDP numbers” (as I explain below). While we could previously rely on an independent Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBS) to give objective statistics (good and bad) and allow the public to draw their own conclusions, that may no longer be the case, for reasons I explain below.

Unfortunately no institution has ever explained how the GDP data should be interpreted, and why selective use of GDP data (especially by politicians) can be misleading, especially in an open economy like Fiji, dominated by foreigners and large local companies, who all send their profits abroad at every opportunity.

First the definition: The “Gross Domestic Product” is supposed be one number that measures the total value of goods and services being produced domestically in Fiji, perhaps best understood as total incomes produced within Fiji.

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