Reduce our Vulnerability: Prime Minister Bainimarama

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has challenged the nation’s energy sector to reduce Fiji’s vulnerability by looking at ways of reducing Fiji’s fuel import bill.

Addressing heads of organisations involved in Fiji’s energy sector at the National Energy Forum today, Prime Minister Bainimarama said incidents in the past such as the oil crisis of the 1970’s and the financial crisis in 2008 have been glaring examples of what the dependence on this commodity can lead to.

“It is imperative to reduce our vulnerability. Energy insecurity does not exist in isolation, it is not a sector problem, it is a threat to the security of our economy, it is threat to the fabric of our society and our very sovereignty as an independent state,” the head of Government said.

“Therefore Fiji’s shift to sustainable energy supply is critical.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama said the Pacific was particularly vulnerable due to reasons such as the inability to influence price in case of cartel, the dependence on fossil fuel for meeting energy needs and being price takers due to the low usage on the global scale.

One of the issues the forum will discuss is the drafting of the National Energy Policy and the Prime Minister has urged the stakeholders to contribute to the policy in order to pave the way of overcoming these vulnerabilities.
Fiji’s oil import bill had tripled in 2008 to $1.2 billion from $400 million in 2004.

Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Barry Whiteside said that the cost of oil imports ‘fuel up’ inflation and has an impact at two different levels in terms of cost to the consumers.

He said the first round effect was when the consumer pays higher prices for the fuel and then when producers of goods and services pass the extra cost of fuel to consumers.

The forum will continue tomorrow and discuss issues such as investment in the energy sector and the progress in the area of alternative energy.