As of today our national debt is around $10.3 billion which is 80 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Highlighting this during his New Year’s message, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said as a “rule of thumb” for a small country like Fiji, our debt ratio should be around 40 to 45 per cent of GDP.
He said the current ratio of 80 per cent of GDP is not acceptable and unsustainable.
“However, we have to “bite the bullet” and make the necessary adjustments so that we can meet our debt obligations.”
“This simply means that in the 2023/2024 financial year budget, debt servicing has been allocated $1.05 billion to service our debt commitment.”
“This is 20 per cent of the total budget of $4.3 billion for the 2023/2024 financial year.”
The Prime Minister said the $1.05 billion allocation for debt servicing will cover interest payment of $500 million and the balance of $500 million is for refinancing our existing debt.
“This implies that our capacity to finance other urgent expenditure is very much limited.”
“This entailed cutting back on wasteful spending, improving efficiencies and growing revenue.”
“We had to create public and investor confidence, lift the economy, increase employment, and improve infrastructure and government services.”
He said the Economic Summit and the Fiscal Review Committee helped the Coalition Government with many recommendations and resolutions.
“For the first time we declared an annual holiday to honour the Girmitiyas and their descendants. Then came the revival of Ratu Sukuna Day, marking the life and work of a great chief.”
“While we were still dealing with the severe problems of the sugar industry, we managed to give the farmers the highest ever cane price of $91.38 per tonne.”
“To seek mutually beneficial solutions to land lease issues, we set up a taskforce to listen to the views of landowners, tenants and others.”
“A great deal of effort has gone into preparing for local government elections so that political power in the towns and cities is returned to the ratepayers and residents.”
“If things go according to plan, those elections could take place in seven to nine months’ time. That will be another milestone in revitalizing and extending democracy.”