Posts tagged Lautoka

Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama opens FNPF Lautoka branch

BAINIMARAMA SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW FNPF LAUTOKA BRANCH

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I’m delighted to be here in Lautoka and to open the new FNPF branch which will greatly improve the service delivery of FNPF to its members.

Superannuation is all about the future – delivering a future of security and peace of mind for ordinary Fijians who have worked hard all their lives and look forward to a comfortable retirement.

We all owe a great deal to the foresight and vision of those who first set up the FNPF 48 years ago – in 1966 – with that great aim in mind.

From a modest investment of 30-thousand dollars, the FNPF has grown into a Fund of 4 point 2-billion dollars. This amount has been built on the hard work of successive members. It represents their life savings and their hopes for financial security when they retire. It is, therefore, the sacred trust of every Fijian Government and every Board, Management and Staff member of the FNPF to make sure that those hopes are realised. To deliver the peace of mind and contentment that we all want our retirees – both current and future – to have in their advancing years.

My Government has done everything possible to meet that obligation. But unfortunately some of the governments that came before us were not so diligent. And unfortunately, some of the leaders of those governments are back, seeking political office on the back of blatant lies about the state of the FNPF and our stewardship of the life savings of every Fijian worker. They are doing so having done little or nothing themselves to protect those savings when they were in office. And were they to ever regain the levers of power, rest assured that the fortunes of the FNPF would rapidly go into reverse, leaving our future retirees with nothing.

A lot of figures are being bandied about and twisted by these politicians to try to destroy public confidence in our stewardship of the Fund. It is highly irresponsible – a classic fear campaign – but it is also wrong. Because the truth is that my Government and the current Board rescued the FNPF from certain bankruptcy. Without our reforms, it would have gone broke by 2052. Yes, stony broke. So that if you are a worker in your mid-twenties now, there would have been nothing left in the Fund in 38 years time. Nothing for your pension even though you would have contributed to the FNPF for your entire working life.

The reason for this is very simple: You cannot take out more than you put in. You cannot dispense more money from the FNPF without putting more money in. If you do, then of course you will run out. This isn’t rocket science but a principle that every child can understand. Yet for decades, this was how the FNPF operated, in spite of warnings repeatedly given by leading international organisations and financial experts.

Yet repeated governments and FNPF Boards ignored those warnings – including those led by some of these politicians who now want to dupe you all over again. Why? Because it was too hard to take the bold decisions necessary to save the Fund and avert the crunch that was always going to come. Instead these politicians did what they always did; keep on raiding the piggy bank to keep an elite group of retirees happy and to safeguard their own interests. They did so without any consideration for the future – the future of our children, the future of Fiji.

They did it with a whole lot of things that desperately needed reform; the sugar industry, the pine and mahogany industries, industrial relations, our crumbling roads, water systems and other infrastructure. Put simply they failed to put Fiji first.

All these reforms my Government has done over the past seven years. We have arrested the years of neglect, taken the hard but necessary decisions to change the way we do things and we have put our nation’s financial position on a better and more sustainable footing. And that included reforming the FNPF.

Yes, a small group of FNPF members have had to make adjustments, but an adjustment necessary to ensure that our pension scheme – which like all pension schemes is based on sharing risks – became sustainable, fair and just for all members of FNPF. Not the select few.

When you hear some of the lies that are being told and the false promises being made, I want every Fijian to remember this; The reform program is working. We’ve not only reversed the downward spiral but achieved a remarkable turnaround. Indeed, these reforms have been acknowledged with the FNPF winning a major international award from the global super-annuation industry.

The FNPF’s financial position is now strong and sound. And the proof of that is in the audited financial results for 2013 – a net surplus of $293-million. That’s a 21 per cent improvement in underlying performance. That means the savings of ordinary Fijians are secure. That means the 300-thousand FNPF members who are yet to retire can be confident about their nest eggs and their futures.

You’ll have heard me say many times that we are building a new and better Fiji. But I take few things more seriously as your Prime Minister than my obligation to do everything I possibly can to ensure the well-being of all our retirees, present and future. So I’m delighted that we are now on a better footing and I want to thank the current FNPF Board under the chairmanship of Mr. Ajith Kodagoda for its role in achieving that objective. With their commitment, vision, and hard work, we are already reaping the rewards of our reform program. With their constant eye on prudent investments, they are laying the foundations for a more prosperous nation in which every Fijian can benefit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are great days for Fiji as a whole. They promise a better future for every Fijian.

It is now with great pleasure that I declare the new Lautoka branch of the FNPF open.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

Fijian Prime Minister visits Lautoka

PM Bainimarama: Reforms at Suva and Lautoka Ports Will make Them “Pacific’s Best”

Fiji has joined forces with a major global maritime logistics company to overhaul the operation of the country’s two biggest ports, Suva and Lautoka, and speed up the flow of goods in and out of the country.

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, says poor performance on the wharves has retarded Fiji’s development, added to the cost of imports and exports and forced ordinary Fijians to pay more for imported goods. This has happened because international shipping firms have imposed special levies on voyages to Fiji to take into account delays in loading and unloading caused by inefficient practices.

“This affects every Fijian and cannot be allowed to continue. So today, I announce a program of radical reform. The old ways of doing things of the wharves are over. These ports need to be run as smoothly and efficiently as possible to ensure that our trade runs more freely and more cheaply for the benefit of all Fijians”, he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the signing of a Private Public Partnership (PPP) agreement between the Fiji Ports Corporation and prominent Sri Lankan conglomerate, Aitken Spence PLC.He said the two companies were joining forces – through FPCL’s subsidiary Ports Terminal Limited – to bring international best practice to the ports of Suva and Lautoka.

“We share the same vision to make these container terminals world class, to radically overturn the inefficiencies of the past and apply best practice to eventually establish them as the leading ports and maritime logistic centres in the Pacific”, he said.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest maritime logistics company and also an important global player, with installations in six countries in South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It has a track record of superior performance inits operations, including container handling, cargo, courier and supply chain management.

Established in 1868 when Sri Lanka was British Ceylon, Aitken Spence PLC has a range of diverse interests aside from its trading and maritime services, including hotels, tourism, power generation, health care, plantations, insurance, financial services, IT, printing and garments.

The Prime Minister said Fiji’s alliance with Aitken Spence was undoubtedly one of the most significant of the PPP agreements that Government was forging as it reformed a range of sectors in Fiji. The cost of doing business would fall and all Fijians would benefit.

“The global record shows that where there’s better efficiency and productivity on the wharves, prices come down. The goods we import get cheaper because shipping charges fall, just as our exports become a lot more attractive in the global marketplace because they are better able to compete. The Government expects the business community to pass on these price reductions to the public and will be taking a tough stance against anyone who doesn’t”, he said.

Commodore Bainimarama said a program of reform at the Suva and Lautoka installations was long overdue.

“There’s been far too much corruption on our wharves, far too much sabotage when certain people don’t get what they want. We’ve seen far too many restrictive and outdated work practices, far too much over-manning and far too much resistance to change by both the stevedoring companies and maritime unions.”

“We need better turnaround times for ships visiting our ports. We need to make Fiji more competitive, more attractive as a trans-shipment for other places in the Pacific. And we can only do this by lifting performance standards in Suva and Lautoka”, he said.

The Prime Minister signaled that the reforms could produce right sizing in the short term but the long-term effect would be more jobs and more investment as the cost of doing business came down.

“Yes, initially there may be re-organization on our wharves as certain changes are implemented and new technology is introduced. However, these will be more than offset by the creation of new jobs as the benefits flow to the wider economy”, he said.

The Prime Minister said the global record showed that private public partnerships were the best way to run a nation’s ports.

“ The odds of success are vastly in our favour. 88 of the top 100 sea ports in the world are run by public/private partnerships like this one that generate much higher revenues than operations that are wholly government owned.

I want to pay tribute to those who negotiated this deal for their hard work – the directors and management of Aitken Spence and Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and the Minister for Public Enterprise and his team.

Together, we will make Suva and Lautoka the leading ports in the Pacific and fulfill their potential at the crossroads of this important region to drive economic growth and benefit all Fijians”, the PM said.

The PPP announcement was attended by Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Chairman, Aitken Spence Maritime Ltd and Director Aitken Spence PLC, who signed the agreement and underlined the company’s strong record of enhancing productivity and efficiency in its operations.

“Aitken Spence is delighted to have forged this agreement with FPCL and the Government of the Republic of Fiji. We see immense opportunities for the private sector to spearhead Fiji’s vision to exploit its strategic geographic location and skilled human resources to become the premier regional maritime hub,” Dr. Dissanayake said.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Opens Saniyaya Water Project, Lautoka

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Opens Boleanamate Waiting Shed, Lautoka

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Opens Seniyaya Water Project, Lautoka.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Speech at the Opening of New Lautoka Wharf Waiting Shed

It gives me much pleasure to be here with you today to open the Lautoka Wharf Waiting Shed.

A shed might seem like a small thing to some people. But to the people who travel between the Yasawas and Viti Levu, whether they do so for their living, to reunite with family, or to take care of personal business, a waiting shed is a very significant  infrastructure.

It certainly is not a small thing for my Government.

To my Government, there are no “small things” when it comes to the welfare of the people of Fiji.

There are no “small things” when it comes to providing the infrastructure that allows our people to work and produce. There are no “small things” because there are no small people in Fiji.

Today marks a new beginning, because this structure will provide a decent place for the people who commute to and from Yasawa to rest after a long journey by sea and to wait in some comfort for the return trip. It also provides some enterprising women and men the opportunity to sell good, well prepared food to hungry travellers. It will also be a place from where art and handmade products can be sold. Here we can encourage people who visit on cruise ships to buy locally made products directly from the people who produce them. As you know my Government has launched the buy Fijian and Fijian made campaign.

So this shed will serve our rural outer islands population both socially and economically.  And at a cost of $40,000, we can say two things. First, it is well worth the cost—a bargain, really. Second, why wouldn’t we build more of these? And the answer is that we will.

My Government plans to build other waiting sheds at strategic locations around Fiji to enable sea travellers and seafarers alike to rest and sell their goods.

But the shed is part of a bigger picture. Indeed, sheds like this are just one part of the infrastructure to support the entire wharf development in Lautoka–like the ice plant and the services provided by the Fisheries Department.

We dedicate this shed to the memory of the late Apolosi Boleanamate, who was then the Mata representing the Tikina of Waya, may he rest in peace. It was his idea and his desire to serve the people of Yasawa—and all Fijians–that led us to this day. He served his country with distinction as a soldier and a champion of social justice—a true son of Yasawa.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I declare this shed open, I would like to remind you that our path to parliamentary democracy is before us. It is marked by a new Constitution and it will take us to elections next year.

We will always have to work to perfect our system. But we know where it begins. It begins here, with a Constitution.

I urge you all to comment on the draft constitution. Remember, you are now our Constituent Assembly.

Every Fijian holds in his or her heart and mind the ability to be part of a critical moment in our history—the moment when we chart a true democratic future

And now, I am proud to declare that the “Boleanamate Memorial Shed” is open.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Thank you.