ENCOURAGING and strengthening activities of the informal sector, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), could help improve the economic well-being of the country.
As well, it could reduce the strain on resources being brought about by rapid urban growth.
This was the message from Baljeet Singh of the USP's School of Economics to the 2012 fourth quarter Local Government consultative forum held in Lautoka last week.
Mr Singh announced policy recommendations in a presentation titled 'Urbanisation in Fiji, an Overview.'
"Government has to look at removing regulatory constraints, simplifying bureaucratic procedures and providing tangible supports such as technical assistance and low-interest credit," he said.
"There also has to be a provision of assistance to create new small-and-medium-scale enterprises."
He said this would be possible by identifying potential business opportunities and entrepreneurs and providing seed capital and other forms of start-up assistance.
Mr Singh also emphasised the importance of linking informal activities to the export sector.
"In this regard, more training and workshops should be provided to the community on how to use local resources and skills to produce high value added products," he said.
The economist also challenged municipal council executives and the Local Government Ministry to play an active role in promoting products from vulnerable groups.
He also challenged financial institutions to become more creative in their assistance programs and develop it into more than just a lending institute.
"The role of microfinance institutions should also be increased from basic saving and lending to product development and marketing," he said.