Caption: Acting USP Vice-Chancellor, Dr Esther Williams, with RBF Governor, Mr Barry Whiteside (left).
The School of Economics from the USP Faculty of Business and Economics, held a successful 2013 Fiji Economy Update at the Holiday Inn in Suva today.
The School organises the yearly event which brings together research output on various aspects of the Fiji economy in an attempt to assist policy-makers to make informed decisions.
This year’s Economic Update focused on the themes of employment with particular emphasis on the development of the Northern region, with speakers from government, international organisations and academia.
The Updates attracted a wide range of speakers from different sectors of Fiji including government officials, academics, and representatives of international organisations.
Welcoming the large number of interested individuals and organisations who had gathered for the Update, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Dr Esther Williams said that the representatives from the various sectors will have the opportunity to contribute to the discussions at the Economic Update.
She said with the deadline of the United NationsMillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs)less than two years away, the international community is busy and trying to debate what comes next, and a key focus that has been identified is poverty reduction, in line with sustainable development and inclusive growth.
She also mentioned that this year’s update is taking place at a critical time when the University is embarking on its ambitious six-year Strategic Plan 2013 – 2018.
She said, “the University is planning to launch a Centre for Economic Policy and Modeling to be linked with the School of Economics”, adding that the Centre will have two main functions: to create models to forecast key macroeconomic indicators and to undertake research on specific issues and challenges facing the region.
In his keynote address, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF), Mr Barry Whiteside said that despite global economic growth having spiraled downwards three times this year, with the world economy poised to grow by 3.1 percent, and Fiji’s major trading partners facing numerous challenges, Fiji’s economy has been fortunate and shielded from the global slowdown.
Mr Whiteside made the comments while noting that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had expanded by 3.3 percent from last year, following a 1.9 percent expansion in 2011.
“Growth prospects are expected to improve further to around 3.2 percent this year, and with the exception of the mining and quarry sector, all sectors will contribute to this growth,” he said.
“The projection for 2013 will be the highest since 2004 and is a combination of reassessment of relevant data and information available as well as direct feedback from a wide cross-section of industries and sectors,” he added.
Mr Whiteside highlighted that out of discussions with the IMF delegation which visited Fiji earlier this month, there was a general consensus on two fundamental issues with regards to economic growth: firstly, that economic growth in 2013 would be higher than 2012 with a forecast of 3 percent and secondly, that Fiji has the potential to do even better.
Academic researchers, policymakers and the general public had the opportunity to contribute to important discussions on economic issues concerning Fiji, at the update. The discussions consisted of the following sessions:
• Economic update of Fiji;
• Employment and Labour Markets; and
• Northern and Regional Development.
A second economy update will be held at the Hotel Northpole in Labasa on Friday, 23 August, 2013.