Posts tagged PNG

Fiji PM Bainimarama Raises Awareness on the Draft constitution to Fijians in PNG

Fiji PM Bainimarama Completes State Visit to PNG

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Speaks at the State Dinner Hosted by PNG PM

Fiji PM Bainimarama Speaks to Fiji-PNG Business Council

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama Opening Trade and Investment Seminar in PNG

Fijian Prime Minister Begin his State Visit in Papua New Guinea

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Remarks at the Fiji-PNG Trade Dinner

Bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

After the wonderful hospitality shown to members of the Fijian delegation, it is a great pleasure for me to be hosting this official dinner as my visit to PNG draws to a close.

As much as it is formal, it is also a family meal. Because as well as being friends, allies and trading partners, we are both members of the extended Melanesian family, whose interests we represent and uphold.

We have crammed so much into this visit that I cannot believe that we’ve only been in Port Moresby since Monday. Thank you for your warm welcome, your overwhelming hospitality and the substantive nature of our discussions.

We came seeking to strengthen our political and economic ties, promote trade and investment and, discuss our vision for Papua New Guinea and Fiji to lead the Melanesian Spearhead Group into a single, unified market. We leave tomorrow having accomplished this and much more.

We’re especially grateful to the Papua New Guinean Government for its generous contribution to our election preparations in Fiji – a total of 50 million Kina – 25 million this year and 25-million in 2014. It is a vote of confidence in Fiji and our desire to establish a genuine parliamentary democracy for the first time and it is deeply appreciated.

This visit has been an outstanding success, and I want to pay tribute to Prime Minister O’Neill for his leadership and the rest of his Government for their hard work and careful attention to detail.

I also want to thank the business leaders who accompanied me on this visit and their Papua New Guinean counterparts, who have been discussing how we can grow our trade, investment and commercial opportunities. We have achieved much – as evidenced by the BeMobile partnership – and are certain to achieve much more in the coming weeks and months.

Fiji looks forward to hosting a Papua New Guinean trade and investment delegation at a date to be fixed and give us the opportunity to extend our celebrated Fijian hospitality to you.

Of course, the coming months are important ones for Fiji, as we finalise a new Constitution and prepare the ground for parliamentary elections by September 2014.

In conclusion, I want to warmly thank Papua New Guinea for its understanding, support and encouragement for the reforms of my Government, both privately and publicly in regional forums, and on the world stage at large.

It has been wonderful to have you standing shoulder to shoulder with us as we strive to produce a new national framework for a better Fiji, a more equal Fiji in which people are judged on their merits.

Through this process, Fijians have come to know who their true friends are – we are grateful for the friendship of the Papua New Guineans.

I now propose a toast to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea – friends and partners now and into the future.

To Papua New Guinea

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Key Note Adress at the Opening of the Fiji-PNG Trade and Investment Seminar

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It’s wonderful to be in Papua New Guinea again and I would first like to thank our hosts for their warm welcome and the hospitality you’ve bestowed upon the Fijian delegation. We were already very close friends and partners before this visit. But there’s no doubt that those ties have been strengthened and we have a great future ahead of us, as we work together for the benefit of our peoples.

This inaugural State Visit and Trade and Investment Mission are important milestones not just for Fiji and Papua New Guinea, but the entire Pacific region. We’re opening a new chapter in our relations, which began formally 38 years ago when our two newly-independent nations established diplomatic ties in September 1975.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our relations have been strongly enhanced through our membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which Fiji joined in 1997. The MSG is now an important regional and international grouping and Fiji attaches enormous value to both our membership and our contribution to its success.  The organisation was further strengthened in 2007 by the signing of the MSG Trade Agreement to foster economic development through trade.

As the major economies in the region, Fiji and PNG are now driving the MSG Trade Agreement towards the first fully fledged Free Trade Area (FTA) in the region. By creating stronger trade and economic links between our two countries, we are laying the foundation for a new era of trade and economic development and cooperation within the MSG.

What do we both bring to this relationship? PNG comprises 76% of the total population of the region, 87% of the total landmass and 15% of the Pacific’s Exclusive Economic Zone. For its part, Fiji is the hub of the Pacific in terms of transportation and infrastructure, and has a strong manufacturing and service sector. We strongly believe that cooperation and coordination between our two countries will lead to stronger economic growth for our MSG sub-region and the Pacific region as a whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji’s trade with the other Pacific Island countries has grown from less than 1% (of total trade) in 2000 to around 4.5% in 2010. Most of that is trade with the other MSG countries. In dollars terms, Fiji-PNG trade in 2012 amounted to $23 million, which accounts for 20% of total trade with the Pacific region.  We expect major growth in the trade figures for 2013 and 2014, especially with the removal of most duties by PNG under the MSG Trade Agreement.

More broadly, the Fijian and PNG Governments – along with our respective private sectors – share a bold vision, which is a truly integrated Pacific, pursuing common goals that grow our economies, increase our regional and global influence and, benefit all our peoples.

This transformation has been staggering over the years. We (the Pacific) have moved from a three item list on our trade schedule (tin fish, sugar and beef) to trade in thousands of goods and service. This has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations. So much so that the cynicism which first met our efforts to encourage trade with each other has now been replaced with awe and envy at how successful we have been.

We are mindful that the growth and prosperity of our region is dependent on trade and economic cooperation between all countries. It provides jobs for our people, it puts food on the table, and enables our Governments to provide basic services like health, education and infrastructure.

As I’ve said – Ladies and Gentlemen – our vision for the Pacific is a common economic union, where we operate as a single common market with free movement of goods, services, labour and capital.  The MSG Trade Agreement has now incorporated and is facilitating temporary movement of skills and looking at new areas for trade that includes services and government procurement.

Furthermore, the MSG countries are collectively looking at developing policies for product regulation and standards, which can be led by Fiji and PNG, as both our countries have well-established laws governing standards and compliance. This will safeguard our consumers from inferior products. It stands to reason that a common economic union will increase economic efficiency and also establish closer political and cultural ties between our countries.

And so let me come to the immediate objectives of this Trade and Investment Mission. There is enormous potential not only for Fijian businesses in PNG but for PNG businesses in Fiji. So our Trade and Investment delegation is here to build on the opportunities available for both Fijian and PNG companies and to create better trade and investment links, for the benefit of both our nations.

Yesterday, I witnessed the acquisition of shares in BeMobile, PNG by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF). This is an indication of Fiji’s commitment to PNG and the region. And, a manifestation of the growing investment opportunities between our two countries. A number of Fijian companies have invested in PNG and this Mission includes many more who are interested in doing the same. As for PNG investment in Fiji, it exceeded more than $218-million between 2005 and 2012. And recent projects such as the Grand Pacific Hotel, the Pearl Resort and Bank of South Pacific are clear evidence of the confidence Papua New Guinea has in the Fijian economy and my Government’s policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji has become a more attractive destination for foreign investment. In order to reduce the cost of doing business, my Government has amended and modernised laws to reduce bureaucracy and red tape in the trade and investment systems and processes.

We are also acting decisively to improve our Infrastructure, which is crucial for trade and development, including adequate port facilities and roads. In the 2013 budget, I announced a major spending initiative of $420 million – the single largest in Fiji’s history – to fix our road network, ports and bridges, which have been neglected for many years. My government in the next few weeks will announce far-reaching reforms in the management of Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd to bring about efficiency benchmarked to international standards in order to maximise and facilitate trade.

Business also needs state-of-the-art comunications. So we are upgrading our information technology systems to pave the way for the introduction of a portal for ‘E-Services’.  This will enable most Government services to go online and be hosted on a single platform. This will include Investment Approval Agencies and applications for Foreign Investment Registration Certificates.

The most exciting development, as part of this project, is the creation of a national switch, called “Fiji Pay,” to which all key agencies, including banks and financial institutions will be required to connect to.  This interchange network will facilitate easier and inexpensive electronic transactions. This will also allow competitors to more easily join the market.

We have simplified the tax system to make it more transparent and eliminate fraud and tax evasion. The Fijian corporate tax is one of the lowest at 20% with a further reduced corporate tax rate of 17% for foreign companies that establish regional or global headquarters in Fiji. The ANZ Bank has already taken advantage of this incentive by shifting its Regional Headquarters from Melbourne to Fiji.

The Tax Free Regions in the Northern part of Fiji and the recently announced region from the Eastern to the North-Western area in Viti Levu provides for companies to enjoy tax free status for 13 years and 20 years if the investment is in the dairy industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fiji is in the process of putting in place a new Constitution, with extensive public consultation taking place as I speak. For the first time, we will have a document that recognises all Fijians as equal. It provides for not only civil and political rights but also a wide range of socio-economic rights.

It will enshrine a number of accountability provisions including the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption, give more powers to the independent judiciary and have transparent and accountable obligations placed on public office holders.

Indeed the commitment by Prime Minister, the Honourable Peter O’Neill yesterday of a $50 million kina grant to assist in the 2014 Fijian Elections under the new Constitution is most appreciated and welcomed.

My Government looks forward to working with the Government of Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations to further strengthen our social, economic and political ties.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m delighted to see the strong interest in this Mission generated from both sides.

There is a comprehensive programme to enable businesses to get all of the information they need and I urge all of you to take advantage of the opportunities presented.

I especially encourage Papua New Guinea businesses and the public to visit the exhibition that showcases the offerings of Fijian businesses.

I now have great pleasure in officially opening the Trade and Investment Seminar and Exhibition.

Vinaka vakalevu.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Speech at the Signing of the BeMobile Deal

Bula vinaka and a very good morning/afternoon to you all.

It’s a great pleasure for me to be here with the Fijian trade delegation for the signing of the historic Joint Venture Partnership between Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Under this arrangement, Fiji’s national superannuation fund, the FNPF, will take a significant stake in PNG’s majority locally owned mobile telecommunications company, BeMobile.  At the same time, the management of BeMobile passes to Vodafone Fiji and becomes part of one of the world’s largest mobile operators, with 440 million customers in 80 countries.

This is a major investment on behalf of the Fijian people and I would like to congratulate the FNPF, along with the other stakeholders; the Government of Papua New Guinea through the Independent Public Business Corporation, PNG’s two superannuation funds – NASFUND and Nambawan Super – and the Asian Development Bank.

This is an exciting venture and an important milestone in the new relationship that Fiji is building with Papua New Guinea. We are pursuing closer economic ties with a view to eventually creating a single market for the countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. And we are leading our Melanesian partners and the rest of the Pacific into a new era of development and prosperity for all our peoples.

This investment is in an industry that is transforming the lives of people the world over, including our region, and in which Fiji is taking a prominent role. Fijians are benefiting from a telecommunications revolution that is empowering our people and providing them with enormous opportunities. Fiji’s mobile penetration rate is more than 110 per cent –yes, more mobile phones than people – compared to around 35 per cent in Papua New Guinea. So there is huge scope to grow this market, not only with mobile phones but a range of digital telecommunications services.

In Fiji, 95 per cent of the country is now covered by 3G technology – increasing the usage of “smartphones” and Internet access through wireless broadband – and we will in the next few months call for bids to introduce 4G. We have also introduced competition in the industry that has given ordinary people affordable access for the first time. And a national network of Telecentres – established by my Government – is providing free access to the Internet and other services for students during school hours and the surrounding community after hours.

This revolution is already producing a transformation in the lives of our people. Mobile technology now has the capacity to bridge oceans and mountains and end the isolation of rural and maritime communities. Peoples’ horizons are being extended. People are being empowered. Being connected means better social interaction and better economic opportunities. Business thrives when telecommunications are reliable and affordable.

Through this investment, we are extending that revolution to some of our island neighbours and playing our part in improving the lives of our Melanesian brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Aside from the core business, there are other important spinoffs. As the employees of BeMobile forge a closer working relationship, we can expect a sharing of knowledge and a transfer of skills. It also has the capacity to further boost trade.

I wish to thank the PNG Government and Prime Minister O’Neill for providing Fiji with the opportunity to gain a stake in one of Papua New Guinea’s telecommunications providers. As you know, Fiji is a relatively small market of under a million. This opportunity has enabled us to tap into your far larger market of seven million and work together in the common interests of our peoples.

By any standards, this is a large investment by the FNPF, the only superannuation fund in Fiji – one that is owned by all Fijians and is charged with safeguarding and expanding their assets. We’re proud that the FNPF has recently received a prestigious international award and acclaim in recognition of its performance on behalf of all Fijians. BeMobile joins FNPF’s growing portfolio that includes major investments in Fiji itself, especially in our biggest industry and export earner, tourism.

For its part, Vodafone Fiji brings to BeMobile its excellent record of service delivery, management expertise, corporate social responsibility and proven record of generating above average returns.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the term “historic” is often overused but not in this instance. The two leading Pacific island nations – Papua New Guinea and Fiji – have joined hands in a joint commercial venture that promises to revolutionise the lives of all our peoples for the better.

Vinaka vakalevu. Tank Yu Tumas.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Remarks at the Breakfast Meeting Hosted by the PNG-Fiji Business Council

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It’s a great pleasure to be here this morning to meet members of the Papua New Guinea-Fiji Business Council. Thank you for hosting this breakfast meeting for the Fijian delegation.

The PNG-Fiji and Fiji-PNG Business Councils have naturally been established to promote trade and investment between our countries and enhance the friendship and understanding that already exists between our two countries and indeed our respective business communities.

But aside from generating business links, these councils are also the conduit between business and Government. They’re giving individual businesses a collective voice to express their concerns and provide an input into government decision-making. So they’re an important component of our overall effort to encourage   trade, investment and technical and economic cooperation between Fiji and PNG. Business clearly is working in partnership with Government. We share the same commitment to expanding that relationship.

The Fijian Government values the role of these Business Councils in providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and contributing those ideas to the national policy debate. Business is a key component in assisting Government to get our policy settings right. We all see trade and investment as the key generator of development and the means to provide our peoples with adequate and sustainable livelihoods.

As I keep stressing, the future isn’t just about the health of individual economies. We are working towards a fully integrated regional economy that will improve the lives of every Melanesian and enhance the status of our region in the global economy.  To achieve that, we need to be smarter, more united and seize the opportunities when they present themselves. We need to think outside the box – to develop new strategies that suit our particular circumstances rather than just accept things as they are and have always been.

This aspect of our enhanced relationship as nations should be valued. Papua New Guinea and Fiji – their governments and business communities – are combining their strengths. We can have more economic muscle. We can be taken more seriously in global forums. We can take a leadership role that enhances not only our own interests but the interests of our smaller and less developed neighbours.  And the revival of the Fiji-PNG and PNG-Fiji Business Councils is a key component in that overall vision.

Ladies and gentlemen, This is not a pipedream but a genuine opportunity. Papua New Guinea is renowned for its mineral and energy resources and the wealth that they generate. You have a population base of more that seven million people. You are the largest Pacific Island country.

At the same time, Fiji is at the crossroads of the Pacific. It has a developed financial sector, a strong manufacturing base and a well-educated work force. As nations, we already have immense potential. Combined, we have even more. We have the means and the resources to take ourselves and our neighbours to another level of development if we work more closely together.

My Government recognises that our role is to provide a better framework in which business can operate and expand. We’re listening to our people and the private sector and amending and modernising our laws and regulations. We’re cutting red tape. And we’re improving the infrastructure that a modern economy needs to thrive.

We have instituted a telecommunications revolution that has taken 3G technology to 95 per cent of the country. We will be in the next few months auctioning spectrum for the launch of 4G. And we are upgrading our roads after years of neglect. Fiji is now also highly attractive from a tax perspective. We have slashed the corporate rate to 20 per cent and 17 per cent for companies willing to move their regional headquarters to Fiji. And we are providing tax free holidays for those willing to invest in less developed parts of the country or in important industries such as dairy.

We have also embarked on a revolution of another sort – resolving the social and political conflict that has dogged us since independence and hampered our development. We are currently consulting on the  draft Constitution that provides for a common and equal citizenry, a genuine parliamentary democracy of one person, one vote one value for the first time in our history and a more accountable and efficient Parliament and civil service. We are building a new Fiji, a better Fiji, and laying the foundation for lasting stability and prosperity.

The Government as the developer of policies and regulations and the private sector as the driver of economic growth cannot be detached from each other or work in isolation. We need to understand each other better and work towards our common objective –thriving economies and a thriving region. So I ask you all to keep bringing us fresh ideas on how we can improve trade and investment, ensure the free flow of goods and services and remove unnecessary barriers to trade.

We are breaking new ground on this visit. It is the first Fijian trade and investment mission to PNG and the biggest our country has ever mounted. We look forward to a similar mission in response and look forward to seeing many of you in Fiji and returning your hospitality.

I again thank the PNG-Fiji Business Council for hosting the Fijian delegation at such a delightful venue and look forward to the positive results that are certain to flow from our discussions.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.