NFP laments debt

THE country’s national debt is expected to surpass the $6 billion mark by 2020, claims the National Federation Party.

NFP president Pio Tikoduadua said the Country Operations Business Plan on Fiji by the Asian Development Bank shows that Fiji was likely to borrow around $US730 ($F1.46b) between 2016 and 2020.

“This equates to F$1.46b,” said Mr Tikoduadua.

“If we add that to the current debt as of August 2017 of $4.72b, the national debt level will rise to $6.18b in 2020.”

Mr Tikoduadua was reacting to the recent announcement of Fiji’s loan of $US75m ($F154m) from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The loan was part of a total investment of $F844m for Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management, mostly funded through loans.

“While funding is needed to improve our urban water supply and wastewater management system in the greater Suva area, it is important that there is prudent financial management,” he said.

Mr Tikoduadua also objected to the recruitment of expatriates to manage the resettlement and compensation of people from the projects’ site.

“The question is do we need to hire three staff on exorbitant salaries to oversee a process of compensation and resettlement that is projected to cost $F6m,” he said.

He also called on Government to be more transparent about its deal in obtaining the $F64m grant from the Green Climate Fund.

“We ask Government to reveal whether it requested for a $US164m($F328m) grant and was only given F$64m instead or 19.5 per cent of what was actually requested.”

Mr Tikoduadua said had the Government secured the $F328m grant, the loan portfolio would have been significantly reduced.

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