Editorial comment – Foreign investment value

National Federation Party vice-president Seini Nabou speaking during the political parties panel discussion and public forum. She is flanked by former prime ministers Mahendra Chaudhry and Laisenia Qarase. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

CLEARLY foreign investment is important for Fiji, say a number of our registered political parties.

That’s the line of questioning we posed this week as we continue our countdown to the 2018 General Election.

We wanted to know what the seven registered parties feel about how Fiji should regulate its foreign investments for the benefit of all citizens.

Given the various answers forthcoming, the parties generally agreed that foreign investment was important for our economic growth, and there appears to be consensus that it should not come at a cost to the well-being of local jobs and domestic investors.

The Fiji Labour Party (FLP), National Federation Party (NFP), Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), Unity Fiji and HOPE party linked such investment to the engine of economic growth. Foreign investment, however, must be managed with clear legislative procedures and processes.

FLP parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh said foreign investment was desirable as it created jobs, contributed to technological development and enhanced the expertise of the local workforce.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said it laid the platform for new innovative ideas being made available for Fijians to learn from, pick up and compete with.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka believes in a balance that ensures local investors are also encouraged and incentivised to increase their investment portfolio in the domestic market. This must be practical and sustainable in the long run.

Unity Fiji leader Savenaca Narube said for an economy to grow, it needed new investments to expand existing businesses or start new ones.

HOPE Party leader Tupou Draunidalo believes current laws were due for a review in the area of regulating foreign investment.

Without a doubt we need investors to bring in new ideas, skills, capital, technologies and perhaps new business practices.

It’s good for the economy, and subsequently for the nation and its people. Investors, however, need incentives to come to Fiji.

That then falls on the State to put in place measures that are attractive and as the parties have pointed out, safeguard opportunities that must be available for Fijians.

What we have today are views that the various parties have of a very important development tool for our nation.

The views today are positively reflective of how much value the parties place on foreign investment.

For whatever it is worth, the views, perhaps different to some extent in parts, have a common factor though, they are reminders for us of the important place this economic driver holds in the bigger picture of our development as a nation.

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