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Be rich to help poor: Punja

Thursday, January 25, 2007

BUSINESS tycoon Hari Punja says the Interim Government needs to expand the economy and make the country rich before it can attend to the needs of the poor.

This, he said, should be carried out by encouraging more investment and exports.

He said the matter was sensitive and was a delicate issue that he did not wish to be drawn into.

He said he preferred to "remain on the commercial side of it."

"It's political and I don't want to go into it right now," he said yesterday when pressed for an explanation on what exactly he meant when he first made the statements on the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Ltd's Radio Fiji Gold station yesterday.

Mr Punja told the radio station that in order to help the poor, the Interim Government needed to first make money. He reportedly told the station that for the Interim Government Budget to help the poor, big companies must first be helped with their exports.

He said more money would be generated to allow the Government to help the poor.

"The important thing is our economy must grow. I do understand that the Minister of Finance likes to help the poor but people can only be helped if we have the money to help them and the money will come through exports, types of business my company is involved in and therefore if he promotes companies like mine, he will have plenty of money to help poor people," Mr Punja told the station.

A senior official in the Prime Minister's office said critics should be encouraged to throw in constructive ideas to help the civil service machinery take the country forward.

Mr Punja is Fiji's most successful businessman, with 15 companies in the Hari Punja and Sons group. He is also one of Fiji's largest domestic investors.


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