Sugar, tourism and electricity rise

STRONG performances were noted in the sugar, tourism and electricity sectors in the third quarter of this year while weak outcomes continued in gold and timber production.

These mixed sectoral outcomes were highlighted in the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s Quarterly Review for September 2017 released recently.

According to the review, a total of 1,336,355 tonnes of cane were crushed producing 148,053 tonnes of sugar as at September 25, 2017.

This recorded an annual increase of 34.9 per cent and 42.7 per cent respectively.

The central bank noted that improved sugar production performance was attributed to minimal breakdowns at the mills while favourable weather conditions contributed to cane maturity and faster harvesting.

Total electricity generated by the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) also rose annually by 7.3 per cent to 655,608 megawatt hours (MWh) cumulative to August 2017.

This was higher than the 3.8 per cent growth in the same period last year.

RBF also noted that FEA’s renewable sources made up 54.1 per cent of its generation mix, slightly lower than the 55.9 percent recorded in the year to August 2016.

Electricity consumption however rose on an annual basis by 7.3 per cent cumulative to August.

The electricity demand consisted of 9.8 per cent domestic use, 6.4 per cent industrial use, 6.4 per cent commercial use and 7.5 per cent for other use.

The tourism industry also generally firmed up in the third quarter of 2017 which reflected the higher visitor arrivals recorded over the quarter.

Cumulative to September, the central bank noted that the visitor arrivals rose on an annual basis by 6.6 per cent to 622,139 tourists.

This was higher than the 4.2 per cent growth recorded in the same period last year.

Higher visitor arrivals were recorded from New Zealand (12.0 per cent), US (18.4 per cent), Australia (1.8 per cent), Pacific Islands (7.8 per cent), Rest of Asia (15.5 per cent) and others.

Visitor arrivals, according to RBF, are anticipated to grow by an annual 5.0 per cent this year.

Meanwhile, the quarterly review indicated that weak production in the timber industry persisted in the first eight months of this year.

This was largely underpinned by declines in both log intake and woodchip production by 47.7 per cent and 46.1 per cent as demand from the Japanese and Chinese markets declined.

Mahogany production also declined on an annual basis by 97.8 per cent to 385 cubic metres, cumulative to June this year as production temporarily ceased.

The review also highlighted a decline in gold production on an annual basis by 6.7 per cent to 32,607 ounces in the year to September.

This was led by industry developments at the Vatukoula Gold Mines Ltd (VGML) earlier this year.

Recent accrual data by the central bank on gold export receipts in the year to May 2017 further revealed an annual decline of 19.0 per cent to $34.1 million compared with the annual increase of 2.9 per cent in the same period in 2016.

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