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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (June 28, 1999 - PACNEWS/Fiji Times)---Fiji’s Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has urged former Fiji residents now living in New Zealand to return home and help the country recover from its economic doldrums.

Addressing about 500 former residents in Wellington during the weekend, Chaudhry said they could come back on short working stints.

He said Fiji needed skilled and competent manpower because the political upheaval of 1987 had caused a massive brain drain.

"During this period, many people were promoted to positions of authority based on criteria other than merit and qualification," he said.

"As a result, our public services have been reduced to a level of incompetency and inefficiency unheard of before."

Chaudhry said the Government had initiated moves to reassess State restructuring and reform the administration of public services.

"But we still need to get back much of the brain we have lost," he said.

"This is where you can help your motherland.

"Some of you may be willing to come back on two or three year stints to help out until we can groom or train others to take over."

The Fiji Prime Minister claimed the Finance Ministry had received several approaches from potential investors, who were reluctant to invest under the previous administration.

"My Government is working on bringing down the cost of doing business in Fiji", Chaudhry said.

He also told the gathering of businessmen that Fiji’s national debt stands at $FJD 1.4 billion (US$ 710 million).

Chaudhry said both foreign and domestic investment were very low, with investor confidence at its lowest ebb since independence.

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