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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 8, 1999 – Fiji Daily Post)---Businessman Mosese Velia has expressed his appreciation for the government's intention to assist indigenous Fijian businesspeople.

At the Budget Forum on Saturday, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mahendra Chaudhry said he has plans in the pipeline to help Fijians in business. Although there are no specific items in the budget, he said he had already directed Fijian Affairs to reexamine policies concerning indigenous people in business.

Mr. Velia was at the Budget Forum and raised the question about the government's commitment to narrow the economic gap between indigenous Fijians and others. "Because there clearly is a gap. And whatever political convictions the government has on racial composition, they must deal with it, because it's political dynamite," he said.

"Any government will look at this with concern because it can cause the instability of any country.

"I think the budget is good. It’s very good indeed.

"Government should be congratulated for such strong policies to help economic growth. Now that we have established communication with government, we can now move on from here.

"To make myself clear, I don't see anything wrong about creating wealth. It's just that the benefits have to be shared equally. The environment should be such that Fijians get equal opportunity, and I think now government wants to help promote indigenous Fijians," Mr. Velia said.

To illustrate his point, Mr. Velia said there were about 120 people present at the Forum and out of that 120, only 10 percent were Indigenous Fijian businessman.

"This just shows the lack of Fijian participation in these kinds of things and one factor that is causing this, is our cultural values.

"Our values have this thing against getting into business and succeeding. "

"We are only used to sharing and giving, not the trading habit!

"Our koro gets very much in the way of development. You notice, when there is a soli (collection), we can raise about $50,000 in one day.

"But the thing that needs to be done is to get these people to translate this money into a business context instead of using it up all at once.

"And I think the only (solution) here is education of Fijians, and it would be really effective if they are taught at primary school level.

"So that is up to the Ministry of Education, to teach accounting, economics and business principles in Fijian schools from primary level right through secondary school level," Mr. Velia said.

For additional reports from The Fiji Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fiji Live.

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