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Small, medium businesses face closure

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 5, 2008) – Fiji's financial institutions are shying away from lending to small to medium businesses during tough economic times, Fiji Indigenous Business Council (FIBC) president Ulai Taoi says.

He said this could threaten the existence and growth of those businesses given that banks played a significant part in the nurture and strengthening of Fijian businesses.

"Some (banks) tend to take the easy way out by not considering further options for small to medium companies," Taoi told participants at the FIBC symposium currently held at the Novotel in Nadi today. "This only leads to the demise of small businesses."

Taoi said the Government, through the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF), should implement measures to enable lending institutions to re-fianance or "take greater risks in situations like this".

He said the Affirmative Action programme also needed to be reintroduced in the 2009 Budget by the interim Government.

Taoi said when this programme was introduced in 202 by the Soqosoqo Duavara ni Lewenivanua (SDL) political party, majority of its members benefited directly from it, although there were teething problems in between.

"We suspect that some of our members who have closed business maybe due to the withdrawal of this programme," he said. "This programme I believe was a call to make aware the challenges confronting Fijian businesses in an environment of diverse cultures, language, beliefs and religion."

Taoi said this was also a call to remind Fijians of another alternate option to a career in the public service, military, corporate life or a life in the village.

"I mention this because the need to address this issue at all level of nation building is critical to a meaningful Fijian participation as well as the long term political stability of this country," he said.


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