Saturday, May 25, 2024
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All things are not rosy, claims Koya

Acting FijiFirst General-Secretary, Faiyaz Koya says all things are not rosy in Fiji and the Government has not been telling the nation about the stark reality.

Koya in a statement said 70 to 80, 000 people are leaving Fiji in only 18 months and Minister for Finance, Prof Biman Prasad is not highlighting this worrying trend.

He said according to Reserve Bank of Fiji estimates, nearly half (49 percent) of emigrants may come from the semi-skilled workforce, with another significant portion (44 percent) classified as skilled.

Koya said this loss of expertise and experience across various sectors could hinder productivity and innovation.

“Assuming semi-skilled workers earned slightly less than the national average (FJ$12,000/year) and skilled workers earned slightly more (FJ$18,000/year), this emigration could translate to a potential combined annual income loss of $1.1 billion.”

“Fiji’s economic sunshine might be fading, replaced by a worrisome storm cloud. Data paints a concerning picture, with several indicators flashing red. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of any economy, seems to be on a downward spiral. Value Added Tax (VAT) collection, which thrives on robust spending, grew by a mere 33.3 percent in the latest period.

The Opposition MP claimed that Fiji’s hemorrhaging population is a serious economic threat.

Koya said Fiji has lost over 10 percent of its GDP in spending power alone – This, coupled with global conflicts, creates a perfect storm for economic hardship and the Coalition Government’s inaction to soften the blow on ordinary Fijians is unconscionable.

“The lending landscape echoes this concern. New loans of all kinds have plummeted, with a particularly dramatic decline in lending for consumption activities like car loans and personal loans.”

“This suggests a tightening grip on spending, perhaps due to reduced disposable income or a more cautious consumer outlook. The situation worsens with a concerning 27.2 percent drop in lending for real estate investment, a crucial engine for long-term growth. Building and construction, another pillar of economic development, is also facing a funding crisis, with lending contracting by a substantial 31.9 percent.”

“The large-scale emigration from Fiji raises concerns about its economic impact. The potential loss of income and skilled labor could be significant. One must remember to never allow the economy to grow stagnate or stall. The economy that the Minister of Finance inherited was strong and the confidence people had, saw record growth with Fiji being one of the top 5 fastest growing economies in the world back in Dec 2022.”

Koya said the 2024-2025 budget is only weeks away and one can only wonder and hope that the minister has something positive that will give much-needed relief and finally focus on economic growth and promote the much-needed stability that has since become a distant memory.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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