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NFP: GDP growth of 4.2pc not real

Mere Naleba
Monday, November 06, 2017

FIJI's economic growth projection of 4.2 per cent is not real.

That's the claim made by the National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad while responding to the forecasted economic growth projection of 4.2 per cent made by the Reserve Bank of Fiji last week.

RBF Governor Ariff Ali said the economy was expected to expand by 4.2 per cent this year, supported by a strong 3.6 per cent growth outlook for next year.

However, Prof Prasad claimed this was not real and the announcement was a case of political expediency.

He said the economic growth revised upwards from 3.8 per cent to 4.2 per cent belies economic weaknesses.

Prof Prasad said with Mr Ariff saying that economic growth was largely driven by public administration and defence, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade and finance and insurance sectors, the party questioned whether the new growth forecast was a true indicator as it contradicted broad economic weaknesses of the Fijian economy.

"For example, agriculture is not showing signs of improvement and remains lacklustre. The sugar industry remains in the doldrums," Prof Prasad said.

He said the ailing sugar industry could not support the livelihood of about 200,000 people, or more than 20 per cent of Fiji's population that depended on it.

"Unless and until an independent panel of experts review the economic forecast and GDP, forecasts coming out of the Reserve Bank will remain questionable," Prof Prasad said.

Mr Ali had said earlier that despite the expanding economy and trade deficit, the external sector, the overall balance of payments were projected to remain comfortable.

He said this was because of adequate support from tourism earnings, remittances and foreign financing of private and public sector projects.

Yesterday, Mr Ali said Prof Prasad was free to make comments.

"I have no comments. Prof Biman is entitled to make his comments on the state of the economy," Mr Ali said.

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