Fiji Could Be ‘South Pacific’s Singapore’: Sayed-Khaiyum

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AG urges collaboration to improve Fiji’s economic position

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 31, 2013) – Fiji can be made the ‘Singapore of the South Pacific’ if workers joined management and the government to improve productivity and overall living standards, says Public Enterprises Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Speaking at the launch of the new public-private partnership agreement between the Fiji Ports Corporation and the Aitken Spence company of Sri Lanka in Suva today, Sayed-Khaiyum raised the specter of Fiji being ‘a new Singapore’ if a collaborative effort is made to improve the country’s overall economic position.

"In the late 1960’s, Singapore used to look up to Fiji as a role model. We now look to Singapore as somewhere that is highly unachievable but we can also do it", he said.

Under the agreement, Aitken Spence is taking over the management of the FPC subsidiary, Ports Terminal Limited, to introduce global best practice at the nation’s main ports in Suva and Lautoka.

Sayed-Khaiyum urged workers at the ports to see the partnership as the dawn of a new era in which they could personally contribute to making Fiji’s ports more efficient and improve their own conditions and skills set.

Aitken Spence aims to create more jobs by making the ports more efficient and increasing the volume of trade through Fiji with larger ships and quicker turnaround times.

At present, international shipping companies are either bypassing Fiji because of slow turnaround times or charging heavy levies and surcharges that are passed on to every Fijian consumer.

The Attorney General said a better performance on the wharves would lead to the removal of these extra costs and every Fijian would benefit through lower prices for imported goods.

"We have a wonderful opportunity to position Fiji in a practical sense as a truly geographical hub in the South Pacific. We are also positioning ourselves as an exporting country, whether it is for agricultural products or manufactured goods. We will be able to make our exports a lot more attractive because of the reduction of shipping costs and the increase in volume," he said.

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