FIJI ECONOMIST: INSTABILITY BODES POORLY FOR ECONOMY

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 2) – A senior Fiji economist says persistent and unresolved issues will affect investment into the country.

University of the South Pacific academic Professor Biman Prasad said unless Fiji resolves its land lease predicament, there would be very less private sector investment in the export areas.

This comes after the Reserve Bank of Fiji prediction of a 2.7 per cent economic growth for this year, which analysts say is "not encouraging".

"There has been perceived political instability in since 2001 and this may have affected some investors," said Dr Prasad, who is head of the USP's School of Economics.

He said other investors have been "constrained" by poor economic infrastructure, such as roads, ports, airports amongst others.

Dr Prasad said coupled with this the non-resolution of land leases and continued instability in the agricultural sector through non-renewal of leases greatly affected productivity and diversification of agricultural products for exports.

He said those were the reasons traditional export sectors have not done well.

Dr Prasad proposes for Fiji's exports and growth rate to increase and there needs to be drastic changes in the way Fiji does business.

"For example, export of timber could increase if production of timber becomes more efficient," he said.

Dr Prasad said there was a huge potential for fruit exports such as pawpaw, pineapple and vegetable exports.

"Government will have to give priority to developing commercial agriculture and this could be supported by the initiatives of National Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises," he said.

Fiji's economy has been growing from a negative -3.9 per cent experienced in 2000. It has been growing at a rate of 1.3 per cent since 2001.

July 3, 2006

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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