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The 'missing link'

Manasa Kalouniviti
Tuesday, July 26, 2016

THIS is the missing link; the formalising of arrangements within the private business sector for disaster management and responses, says Minister for National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu.

The minister made the comment while launching the new Fiji Business Disaster Council at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva last Friday.

Mr Seruiratu said: "The business community coming on board completes the whole equation in the disaster management process.

"It's not that they haven't been involved, but now the private sector can co-ordinate their responses and initiatives better through a formal body and they will be in a better position to assist Government in times of disasters."

The minister said he was very happy about the new development and further stated he wanted the private sector, through the council, to be represented on the National Disaster Management Committee.

Mr Seruiratu thanked NGO representatives and members of the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF) present at the launch and said: "We want the private sector involved in the disaster council because that's where we make critical decisions. So let's take ownership and get ourselves to contribute so we can build a resilient and climate smart Fiji.

"I need your ideas to improve our disaster management.

"Disasters are here, they are real and they are happening. We have to learn to do sustainable development to sustain our environment for the future and we have to improve the way we co-operate in times of disasters," Mr Seruiratu said.

He said the new council was a positive step in that direction and he looked forward to council feedbacks and inputs in the future.

Meanwhile, FCEF chief executive officer Nesbitt Hazelman said the new business disaster council was a first in the South Pacific and its members were picked from the eight-member council of the federation in all sectors.

"Disasters know no boundaries. It cuts across all sectors of the economy which is why the private sector needs to be involved," he said.

Dr Asif Chida, the inclusive growth team leader and private sector specialist for UNDP Pacific office in Fiji, who was also invited to give a keynote address, congratulated the private sector for taking this amazing step.

"Disasters are getting more intense, more severe and we have to be ready. We need innovative approaches and it has to be a public-private partnership," he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the new council, Goodman Fielder's George Peckham, when asked about the council's immediate plans going forward, said they had a 12-month plan where they intended to put "words into deeds".

"The public sector has the capability and the capacity to go out and facilitate matters in this important area," he said.

Prior to the official launch, more than 38 companies attended a Lessons Learned Workshop focused on understanding what worked well and recommendations moving forward on how to respond better to disasters such as Severe TC Winston.

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