AS STRONG business heads — including investment advisers and key business people — met yesterday in Suva to take stock and revamp strategies to develop the local capital market, they were challenged to think openly and act boldly.
Capital market stakeholders who are part of the Reserve Bank of Fiji-organised Capital Markets Development workshop were also urged not to be afraid to suggest changes.
Addressing the well-attended event at the Novotel in Lami, permanent secretary for Finance Filimone Waqabaca said the two-day meet would assist in strategising solutions to tackle some of the long-standing challenges that had hindered the development of capital markets in Fiji.
"As you dialogue, I urge you not to be afraid to suggest and embrace changes. The fear of the unknown can cripple innovative thinking, stall progress and forfeit opportunities and benefits that could be gained," Mr Waqabaca said.
"We all know that a deep and a broader capital market will enable the private sector to expand its role in channelling savings to meet investment needs," he said.
He reasoned the capital market played an important role in financing business ventures, creating jobs, widening ownership of assets, and generating returns on long-term savings.
Mr Waqabaca said compared to Fiji's 40 years of post independence development experience, the local capital market was relatively young.
"We need to take stock and reassess our direction. While we still have a long way to go, I am pleased to note that we are making headway," he said.
Speaking a few days ahead of the much-anticipated 2013 National Budget, scheduled to be held next Thursday, Mr Waqabaca said the development of the capital market was critical for growing the economy.
He said it was also essential if Fiji was to be made the financial hub of the region.
"We need to overcome the challenges that hinder the growth of this market and embrace the opportunities that are associated with it," Mr Waqabaca said.
"For this to materialise would require concerted efforts of the stakeholders present here today (yesterday). There have been numerous meetings and workshops where the challenges and opportunities in the capital market were discussed," he said.
"It is time for action now. A proper framework or model to take us forward needs to be developed. And equally important is a champion to drive, co-ordinate and ensure that the outcomes of this workshop are realised."
He added all that should be well articulated in the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan.