CALLS FOR DUAL CITIZENSHIP FOR FIJIANS RENEWED

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Interim government previously supported dual residency for investors

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 17, 2008) – Renewed calls have been made for dual citizenship to former Fiji citizens as a means of bringing investment and expertise to the country.

Ross McDonald, the managing director of Credit Corporation of Fiji, told the Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress at the weekend that it would be of tremendous advantage in the future.

"Give dual citizenship to our former citizens who have gone away and indeed make it available to others, make people feel welcome here, invite them back, be part of what we are," he urged.

Fiji’s former vice president Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi also believed it was "an excellent idea".

"I have been to Australia and New Zealand recently and just talking to people who have settled there (and they) talk constantly about their attachment to and affection for Fiji. I think it is something that we ought to seriously consider," he added.

He did note however that some may be concerned about how it may affect election results.

"I cannot seriously (believe) that tens of thousands of people are going to get on the plane just to come and vote or to even bother to cast their electoral votes," he said.

He believed that the people who have left here and who have made a new life for themselves have a lot to offer "even if they came down for short periods of time in terms of just the amount of money they would invest and the skills that they have to offer".

Australian high commissioner to Fiji James Batley saw it on a broader issue.

"I guess it comes under the heading labour mobility but I am just thinking in the context of what I heard for this forthcoming PACER Plus negotiations."

He said people think of free trading agreements sometimes in very basic terms, that is, just to do with trade and goods.

"But really what we have in mind is to put everything on the table for this negotiation," he said.

"It just seems to me that if the countries of the region are prepared to grasp the opportunities, you could envisage a future where there is much greater mobility in all directions and not just unskilled and semi skilled but also for professionals. That could make it easier for people that may have moved to Australia and New Zealand to come back and work here but also in other markets in the Pacific.

"So I think there is an emerging negotiation framework that can move some of these ideas along."

The interim Government last year had approved the issuance of dual permanent residency to Fiji people abroad who wanted to invest here.

The Immigration Director Viliame Naupoto has been unable to provide details on the success of this policy despite numerous reminders.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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