Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reality check for interim PM

Reality check for interim PM
www.fijitimes.com - Tuesday, February 03, 2009
WHEN the military took control of the country on December 5, 2006, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama proclaimed that he was doing so to create a better Fiji for all her people.
Almost immediately the repercussions of his action were felt – not by him or his troops who still had their jobs – but by thousands of people who lost theirs as tourists fled our shores and investors thought twice about putting their money here.

Here we are, almost 26 months later, and what exactly has Bainimarama managed to create for the people of this country? Indeed the question that Bainimarama needs to answer is how many jobs has he created for the people of this country? And how many more has he destroyed?
Thousands of casual workers in the tourism and sugar industries have lost their jobs in a climate where no new ones are being created, nor will be created any time soon. The tourism industry continues to struggle to survive, last year slashing prices in an attempt to keep Australians and New Zealanders flocking to our shores.
But the millions that the industry spends marketing Fiji come to nought every time Bainimarama decides to have an outburst. Then there's the sugar industry – desperate for EU funds which will not be forthcoming because an unelected government is in power. With lower prices now the new sugar reality, we must reform our sugar industry. But Bainimarama continues to starve it of the funds it really needs to reform properly and survive. So more jobs will be lost in the sugar industry as a result.
Even in the civil service, where Bainimarama does have control, there is a job and salary freeze on. Sometimes it seems that the only department really thriving is the army where backpay, bonuses and job adverts abound. Now – not content with destroying thousands of private sector jobs earlier, Bainimarama's regime has decided to enforce a further inflationary measure, a major wage increase for the private sector to bear.
Thousands more jobs will be lost as businesses struggle to cope. Bainimarama cannot and will not be able to create the jobs that are needed to keep Fiji's families afloat. Bainimarama needs to wake up and see the macroeconomic picture. Wake up and smell the stench of thousands of dead jobs.

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