FIJI CHAMBER WANTS DIALOGUE WITH GOVERNMENT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 17, 2000 – Fiji Times)---Fiji Chamber of Commerce President Natwarlal Vagh says if the Government wants the economy to thrive it should not regulate prices and make economic policies at the expense of the business community.

Speaking after a business dinner with Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry on Saturday night, Mr. Vagh said while regulations were welcome they should be introduced after discussions with the business community.

He said he looked forward to more dialogue.

Mr. Chaudhry told businessmen not to fret over a slight decline in profits when efforts were made to uplift the living standards of the poor.

Mr. Vagh said while the business community appreciated Mr. Chaudhry's efforts to bring down the financial costs of doing business through reforming the banking system and lowering lending rates, it still needed free trade policies to thrive.

Mr. Vagh said while the Government was justified in trying to create a balance in the economy it should not be at the expense of anyone.

"We should have a free trade society where all businesses will thrive and the cost of items will be decided by the market with basic regulations set by government,'' he said.

"If government starts regulating prices, wages, introduces a licensing system and makes sudden economic decisions in the middle of the year we are at a great loss.

"We should be informed in advance so that we can make prior plans and be prepared to make the changes.''

Businesses needed pre-planning and it was only fair that they be consulted before decisions are made, Mr. Vagh said.

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