Posts tagged Fiji PM

PRIME MINISTER BAINIMARAMA’S SPEECH AT THE AMEX RESOURCES LTD GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY

Bula vinaka and good afternoon to you all.

It’s a pleasure to be with you to break ground at a $200-million project in the Province of Ba: a new wharf and ship-loading infrastructure to export Fiji’s first-ever mined iron sand.

Today is an auspicious occasion for me. Because of weather delays last week that delayed the Military hand-over ceremony, it marks my first official event as your civilian Prime Minister. And I am glad my first day as a civilian Prime Minister is to participate in the ground ceremony for the first ever iron sand mining project in Fiji.

Yesterday was a very moving day as I said farewell to the RFMF so that I can form my political party and lead it into this year’s general election. I will make concrete announcements on the new party in the coming weeks.

My resolve is now stronger than ever to bring Fiji into an age of prosperity and opportunity for all. To continue our focus on important issues like improving health services around the country, creating new jobs that pay a living wage, continuing our fight against corruption, improving services and upgrading our infrastructure into the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When Amex Resources was granted a lease for their iron sands project, which includes the construction of this new wharf in Lautoka, it was only after careful consideration of the big picture, of how it will impact Fiji and Fijians in the long-term.

Iron sand is used to create steel and is very popular, particularly in the growing economies of the world. We have healthy deposits of it here in Fiji, but we must carefully consider all aspects of mining for such a resource, including the impact on environment before any mining licence can be granted. This of course was exactly what happened in Amex’s case. I am happy to announce that Amex has met with all the compliance requirements and we are glad to partner with them.

Amex will invest over 200 million Fijian dollars. The chief part of Amex Resources’ investment is the construction of a new wharf and ship-loading facility that is specifically designed to export minerals, which we are breaking ground for today.

The concentrate that is dredged from the Ba Delta will be transported here, where it will be processed and then exported to markets overseas. Production could rise as high as 1.5 million tonnes a year.

I’m very pleased to note that rather than using trucks to transport the product from Ba to Lautoka – which would clog up the roads and damage them – the company will use barges, an innovative idea applauded by my Government. I hope other companies carting such heavy loads will follow Amex’s example.

The Lautoka Port facility will include a berth, a barge unloading facility, a washing plant, a stockpile area, ship-loading infrastructure, as well as workshops and offices. I am also very pleased to note that MCCO one of the top 5 mining facility construction companies in the World is partnering in this project. I welcome them to Fiji.

All told, the construction of these facilities – together with the purchase of a specialised marine fleet – represent a $180-million investment. This is in addition to the $25-million the Company has already spent on exploration and other associated works.

We expect the project to create 300 jobs – both skilled and unskilled – for Fijians in Ba and Lautoka. Of course, this does not include the various flow-on benefits it will have on employment and economic activity in the province of Ba and across Fiji.

As I’ve said before, it’s about appointing the best people for the job. Amex Resources, a listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange with major shareholders in China, is a reputable company that has the necessary experience and know-how to oversee these works and bring them to a successful conclusion.

But earlier, I mentioned the big picture. Not only will this project boost the Fijian economy and create jobs, it will also complement Government’s efforts to dredge the Ba Delta, thereby reducing the frequency and intensity of flooding during heavy rains and cyclones.

We all know how damaging and horrifying it is when a river bursts its banks and the floodwaters rise. Within the last couple years alone, we’ve suffered a number of devastating episodes. There’s hardly a person in Fiji who hasn’t felt the impact of flooding in one way or another.

So the fact that this project will help prevent that sort of devastation in the future is a cause for great celebration.

But, Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s an even bigger picture to consider and it’s the growing sense of optimism about Fiji’s economy as we see investments of all sorts ramp up around the country.

This year our economy is expected to grow by as much as 3.6%, following growth last year as well.

New job advertisements are up by 14%, new bank loans for investment have risen by 109%, and as of last November, imports of investment goods have increased by 27%.

However, you don’t need these figures to know that things are picking up.  Just look around. Everywhere you can see new investment, construction projects – big and small, job creation, demand for services and overall an expectation that things are going to keep getting better.

Clearly, as I’ve said before, the savviest investors aren’t waiting until after the election to take advantage of all the incentives and concessions that are already in place.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to be careful when talking about economic growth not to lose track of what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Growing the economy is about creating opportunity for Fijians. Whether it’s a new job or sustaining a job with good working conditions. Whether it’s starting a small business or expanding a larger one. We care about economic growth because we want to create these sorts of opportunities for our people.

We want jobs and economic opportunities for our young people that offer good career prospects. We want growth and success for Fijian businesses, big or small. We want every Fijian to earn a living that can support them and their families.

That’s the bottom line and that’s why my Government has spent so much time and effort to make the necessary reforms and put in place smart and consistent policies.

I’m proud to say that in Fiji over the last seven years we haven’t cut corners for short-term gain. We’ve put in place a detailed roadmap for reform across a broad front and we’ve stuck to it. We have not veered nor have we strayed. It’s about setting rules and those same rules must apply to everybody.

It hasn’t been about doing things the quickest way, or doing things the easiest way, or doing things the cheapest way, it’s been about doing things the right way. Whether it’s building our roads, writing our Constitution, educating our children, assisting Fijian investors, or attracting foreign investment, the same holds true.

My Government is committed to doing it the right way and creating meaningful change and lasting benefits in a transparent manner for the nation that we all love so dearly.

Of course, the overall success of our program depends on productive partnerships. In that regard, we look forward to the continuing success of our partnership with Amex Resources.

With those words, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to officially break ground for Amex Resources’ Lautoka Port facility.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.

Fijian Prime Minister Officiates the 2014 Chinese New Year Celebrations

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama visits Evacuation Centres in Sigatoka & Nadi

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama delivers speech at the United Nations

PM Bainimarama Speech at Launch of PGA Fiji International

Bula vinaka and good afternoon.

We all know the golf community has a language of its own. Birdies and bogies – bends and hooks – woods and irons. Now, a lot of this is new to me. So when someone asked me once if our Minister for Youth and Sports was a “scratch” golfer, I replied “Sure he is, every time he hits the ball he scratches his head and wonders where it’s gone.”

It’s a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to announce plans for what will become one of Fiji’s largest and most prestigious sporting events: the Fiji International.

This annual golf tournament is set to be the newest leg on the PGA’s tour of Australasia. The first tee-off is scheduled to broadcast to the world in August 2014, hosted at the beautiful Natadola Bay Golf Course, becoming a permanent fixture on the tour for the years to come.

The signing of today’s MOU is a significant moment for Fiji because it demonstrates that the PGA has faith in our country to hold one of its major events. Faith in our infrastructure. Faith in our economy.  And faith in our people. I am here to say that we are equal to the opportunity and look forward to a strong and lasting relationship with the PGA.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As one of the world’s most popular sports, golf is a major niche tourism market with huge growth potential in Fiji, poised to take advantage of the game’s rapidly growing popularity in Asia.

That’s why we’re so excited that the PGA is coming here. A PGA golf tournament is a major international event of the highest caliber, attracting some of the game’s best professionals.

Although Fiji has long offered some of the best golf courses in the region, both to our visitors and to our local golfers, the Fiji International will rightfully establish it as one of the world’s top golfing destinations.

With a potential broadcast reach to more than 400 million people across 40 countries, the tournament will showcase Fiji as a must-visit golf and tourist location in countless homes around the globe.

This is very good news for our Tourism Industry. And this is very good news for our economy.

Indeed, we expect the tournament to lead directly to a multi-million dollar boost for Fiji, with many additional flow-on benefits.

One such benefit is that this tournament will increase the value of the FNPF-owned land in Natadola. As a result, after the second stage of development work there, the FNPF will achieve a higher rate of return when it sells or leases that land, profiting all of the funds’ current members, as well as all future generations of members.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As many of you are aware, the Fijian Government has launched an extensive campaign over the course of the last couple years to completely revamp “Brand Fiji” – including with the recent launch of the new Fiji Airways.

“Fiji, where happiness finds you”.  Not just a slogan, but a belief that Fiji truly has something unique to offer our visitors, who are welcomed with the famous Fijian hospitality, a kind not found anywhere else.

So as Fijians, we take our national brand seriously. We are very proud of our home and we want to make sure that pride is reflected whenever we attach our name to something.

Well, the Fiji International PGA golf tournament is certainly something we Fijians can be proud about.  It will give us a fantastic avenue to promote our beautiful nation and show the world what we have to offer.

In fact, I doubt that anyone tuning in at home will view the stunning aerial shots of Natadola and not be tempted to immediately start planning their next holiday.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to keep my remarks brief this afternoon.

With these few words, on behalf of the Government and the Fijian people, it is now my pleasure to welcome the PGA to Fiji.

Vinaka Vakelevu. Thank you.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Opens Telecentre at Seaqaqa Secondary School, Vanua Levu

Early Debt Repayment Heralds New Beginning for Fiji Pine: Bainimarama

In a clear sign of the remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of Fiji Pine, the state-owned enterprise has paid off a loan it recently secured from Government to clear a 28 year debt.

Just three months ago, Fiji Pine borrowed $2.4-million dollars from Government to finally settle a loan it obtained from the European Investment Bank in 1985.

Its recent financial performance has been such that the Executive Chairman of Fiji Pine, Faiz Khan, was today able to hand the money back when he presented a cheque for $2.4-million to the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Prime Minister commended Fiji Pine for the prompt repayment. “ I can’t recall another occasion when a state-owned enterprise has paid off an outstanding amount to Government so quickly. It’s a great credit to the Board, management and workers and a clear sign of the success of our reform program at Fiji Pine”, he said.

For his part, Mr Khan thanked the Prime Minister for the Government’s support, describing the repayment as a significant milestone “ Because of this assistance, we have been able to clear a debt that has been on our books for almost three decades. It marks a new beginning for Fiji Pine in that we can now put our focus firmly on the future growth of our businesses”, he said.

Mr Khan said Fiji Pine had long been burdened by past failures but was gradually turning its fortunes around and guaranteeing a sustainable future for the enterprise and its workers.

“We made record profits in 2011. And while we have endured an unprecedented slump in the wood chip market over the past 18 months, our marketing strategies will ensure more stable demand for our products into the future”, he said.

Mr Khan said Fiji Pine had transformed its operations at the Wairiki chip mill in Bua and had tackled the corruption, mismanagement and outmoded work practices that were holding it back.

“We have also revamped our nurseries and our planting programs. However, we are still a long way from where we want to be in terms of upgrading the capital we have in our forests, factories and workforce. Fiji Pine Limited, the holding company, had accumulated losses of around $130-million in its books as at December 2010. It is logic and common sense that a business cannot continue like this and will be doomed to fail if not corrected”, the Executive Chairman added.

Mr Khan said debt clearance remained a big priority for Fiji Pine but the Group’s debt burden had now been brought under control. “In the past two-and-half years, the Fiji Pine Group has serviced $25.3 million in debt and reduced our principal by $17.6-million. We still have $55.5m debt left in our books but we are now in a reasonably comfortable financial position where the debts are serviceable from our operations”, he said.

Mr Khan paid tribute to Fiji Pine’s workforce and said they could be proud of their own role in turning around the company’s fortunes. “For too long, we neglected our human assets. We are nothing without our workers and a large part of the credit belongs to them. So as well as providing them with new uniforms, we are currently spending $350,000 on new canteens to provide them with subsidized meals and improving their general work environment with new toilets and shower facilities. This is one of the most exciting priorities on our list of current work”, he said.

Fiji Pine workers were also singled out for praise by the Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprises, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who said they had worked hard with the Board and  management to achieve  “an outstanding result”.

“What we are seeing is proof that our public enterprises can thrive if employees, management and Government work together cooperatively for the common good. This is all good news for those dependent on the industry and for the Fijian economy as a whole”, he said.

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Keynote Address at CPA Congress 2013 at Fiji Resort

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama Opens 2nd National Climate Change Summit (Itaukei Language)

Fijian PM Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s Remarks At Fiji Night

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just a brief word of welcome to our Fijian night here at the Westin.

I said in my welcome speech yesterday that I hoped our international visitors would take time out to experience something of our country and the warmth and hospitality of our people.

But for those of you who are the time poor, this is the next best thing – a taste of our culture through music, song and dance.

I’m sure you will all agree with me that the past couple of days have been a wonderful experience. We’ve forged new contacts and friendships that will help us all in the quest for solutions to our development challenges. And I’ve been very gratified at the positive feedback I’ve been receiving across the board.

Tomorrow, I’ll be making an exciting announcement about the future of the PIDF. But for now, it’s time to relax, enjoy ourselves and celebrate the real stars this evening – our performers.

They are ordinary Fijians with extraordinary talents and one of the reasons why we’re all so proud of our culture.

Vinaka Vakalevu. And enjoy the rest of the evening.