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Growth rate a concern

Monika Singh
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE per capita income growth rates for the Pacific have not kept up with population growth rates and have in turn contributed to growing inequality and hardships.

Speaking at the opening of the 2017 Pacific Update Conference at the University of the South Pacific yesterday, Minister for Education Dr Mahendra Reddy said urban centered growth rates had benefited the elites and excluded the rural maritime population from participating in the growth process.

Dr Reddy said this had deprived them from benefiting from the urban centered growth process.

The Asian Development Bank, Australian National University and USP organised conference this year is based on the theme Promoting Blue Green Economy; Enhancing Connectivity; Accessible Employment.

"Pacific Island countries also withstand major issues and scenarios which are affecting the overall growth and expansion aims. Issues such as 'loss of skilled labour', rise in NCDs, greater vulnerability from natural disasters, exploitation of natural resources, and more recently climate change has slowly but surely extended its grip on Pacific nations," he said.

He said such conferences that sought to evaluate policies and research aimed at countering Pacific Island issues were highly instrumental.

Speaking on the themes for the conference Dr Reddy said the issue of enhancing connectivity in areas such as regionalism, co-operation, trade, infrastructure and ICT was exceptionally valuable.

"Pacific Island nations' limitations in connectedness are particularly attributed to the vast swath of the Pacific Ocean." he said.

"As such, all our efforts have to be united towards greater networking and through regular interactions and blending.

"The second focus area has targeted labour mobility, job creation and labour market developments in the Pacific region. Again the importance of this area is indispensable. Our growing economies continuously need to tap into new and transitioned job skills set of our people to meet the growing demands of diverse forms of labour."

Dr Reddy said one such area was the issue of labour supply and demand in the field of science and technology in the Pacific.

"The other is the constant migration of our experts and qualified people for 'greener pastures'. One area that I am proud the Fijian Government is relentlessly pursuing is making education and training accessible to all the people pursuing various job markets and which is envisioned to create labour sustainability for current key job sectors in years to come."

He said the third key focus of this conference: "Sustainable Development — Exploring the meaning of Blue-Green Growth" was extremely fitting, especially, given the giant strides our nation Fiji had taken to advocate for environment sustainability and preservation of the natural environment including our oceans and spearheading the global campaign against climate change.

The conference ends today.

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