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By Josua Tuwere

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 10, 2001 – Fiji Times)---A poor growth projection for the Fiji economy means that it no longer has the capacity to absorb 14,000 school leavers into new jobs every year, says Savenaca Siwatibau.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific says the Fiji economy usually generated about two to four thousand jobs each year but this was no longer the case because of the economic downturn. "I think it would be a good strategy to concentrate on these 14,000 young people because they are going to be voters."

Mr. Siwatibau, the former Director of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), blames bad governance for the current state of affairs and the deterioration in the quality of services provided by the public sector.

"I think some of these leaders are aiding and abetting it because I haven’t heard any one leader since independence in Fiji telling us that we need to work harder."

He made the comments at the Reserve Bank of Fiji while launching the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2001.

Mr. Siwatibau wants the issue of bad governance to be addressed immediately. "If you don’t have good governance, you won’t go anywhere. Sometimes, I think economists like me and others around the region are conducting an exercise in futility by advising some of these leaders."

He also pointed out external factors like the slowing down of the Japanese and American markets as influences on Fiji.

Mr. Siwatibau addressed about 30 members of the diplomatic, business and press corps who gathered for the launch of the report, prepared by ESCAP.

The 262-page report examines recent trends in the global economy and their implications on the Asia and Pacific region. It also concentrates on financing for development from the perspective of the Asia and Pacific region.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.


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