Fiji Budget 2024: Concerns Raised Over Investment and Growth

Opposition Member of Parliament Sachida Nand has raised concerns about the 2024/2025 budget, stating that it fails to address investment and growth in Fiji.

During a Parliamentary debate on the budget, Nand remarked that the budget does not offer new incentives that would encourage local investment. “Banks are complaining of high liquidity as people are not borrowing to invest. Even when loans are approved, people are not drawing to invest,” he said.

Nand also criticized the budget for lacking measures to attract foreign investment, which he believes is crucial for economic growth in Fiji. “When the economy booms, people’s trust and confidence in the Government increases. I urge the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance to work on this,” he added.

He noted a shift in the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance’s focus from nominal debt discussions to debt-to-GDP ratio. “Until November 2022, the only thing the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance talked about was the Dinau, or the nominal debt, or the per capita debt. This was very much missing from his speech and he took an about-turn and started talking debt-to-GDP ratio.”

Nand highlighted that the expected debt in the 2024/2025 budget is $10.91 billion, which translates to a per capita debt of $12,000 to $12,800. “In the Honourable Minister of Finance’s language, every citizen carries a debt of $12,000 to $12,800 depending on the actual population,” he said.

He also criticized the budget allocation of $2 million for the establishment of the Narcotics Bureau, stating it was insufficient to tackle a multi-billion dollar problem. “We are investing too little to fight an issue that affects numerous other areas. I urge the Honourable Minister to reconsider and increase the allocation.”

Nand further pointed out the lack of new infrastructure investment in the budget, noting that the allocation is only for the ongoing maintenance of existing infrastructure developed by the previous government. “My question is, what new roads are being done by this government? The answer is none.”

He concluded by expressing concern over the Government’s heavy reliance on direct budget support from donor agencies. “Government should remember that this is not a permanent facility that will always be available. This can be withdrawn if economic conditions in the country are not favourable. We should start focusing on having a budget without this,” he stated.

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