The Honourable Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum;
The Chairman, Board Members, and CEO of Energy Fiji Limited;
The Chairman, Board Members, and CEO of the Fiji National Provident Fund;
The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji;
Ladies and gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I’d like to begin by formally welcoming the Fiji National Provident Fund on board as Energy Fiji Limited’s latest shareholder. Following our signing of these landmark agreements, FNPF has now joined the Fijian Government, along with tens of thousands of Fijians, in taking up a partial interest in EFL.
We welcome this wise decision from FNPF to take an ownership stake in EFL – it was a tough negotiation and your Board drove a pretty hard bargain, but we’re all happy with the end result. With this signing, we’ve successfully granted the Fijian people ownership over EFL on two fronts, as the number of Fijian shareholders in EFL has surged from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands now that we’ve brought on board FNPF’s nearly 430,000 beneficiaries.
This arrangement represents a major milestone in our national campaign to build public enterprises or publicly-owned entities that are self-sufficient, sustainable and more suited to serving the growing and evolving needs of the Fijian people – an effort led by our Honourable Attorney-General and his dedicated team.
Every year, more Fijians are joining our national grid or welcoming new sources of power directly in their communities. They’re counting on EFL to keep the lights on down their streets and in their homes, schools and health centres. And when disaster strikes, they look to this company to bring their power back and restore their quality of life. By bringing in private sector participation, we’re putting EFL in a more powerful position to meet its key mandates: improving the supply of reliable and resilient power for its customers and expanding access to electricity for more of our people.
That mission in improving the services delivered to our people carries through across industries – a fact proven by our successful divestments of the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited and the Government Printery, and the most recent Public Private Partnership at the Ba and Lautoka hospitals.
As Fiji’s leading financial entity and one of our single-largest property owners, FNPF has earned an impressive reputation as a savvy investor and well-governed superannuation fund, winning international awards and managing a portfolio that has swelled to over 6.6 billion dollars in assets. That record will prove invaluable in our national campaign to grow the nationwide network of infrastructure and services that provides our people with the life-changing benefits.
EFL is already a billion-dollar asset company and manages some of the most vital pieces of our national infrastructure network. FNPF’s proven merit in growing and managing a diverse portfolio of fixed and growth assets, including resorts, banking institutions, telecommunications companies, port management and residential and commercial properties across the country will add value to EFL’s already steady and steadfast financial management. That’s good news for FNPF’s beneficiaries. That’s good news for the hundreds of thousands of Fijians who rely on power supplied by EFL every day. And that’s good news for the nearly 40,000 number of Fijians who are shareholders in EFL, who were given free shares just for being customers –– domestic account holders earning less than $30,000 received 250 shares and those above that threshold 150 shares.
My government will remain the majority shareholder in EFL, and our agenda in energising the lives of the Fijian people remains ambitious as ever. Our growing economy will continue to serve as the engine powering growing access to clean and affordable energy, for all Fijians, no matter where they reside in our country.
We remain committed to bringing every Fijian access to reliable power by 2021. We remain committed to supplying 99 per cent of energy in Fiji from renewable sources by 2036. And we remain committed to maintaining EFL’s role as a job-creator in our economy, with staffing needs expected to expand in the year ahead as EFL continues the growth of its asset portfolio.
We will also remain committed to powering the lives and livelihoods of Fijian in rural pockets of our country, supplying sources of energy that are resilient, reliable and affordable. Government will continue to invest to power isolated rural and maritime communities through partnerships with local, regional and international organisations –– like the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation –– with EFL being a key partner in this objective. FNPF can be proud to add a company to its portfolio with such a demonstrated commitment.
Fiji looks to lead by example on the world stage in transitioning away from dependence on harmful fossil fuels and towards clean energy sources. We urge EFL and its shareholders to continue to pave the way for co-investments in renewable energy projects, building on EFL’s array of hydro and and wind power assets. We’re on the cusp of a renewable revolution in Fiji –– a charge that will be led hand-in-hand by EFL and my government.
FNPF’s savviness in pursuing this investment shouldn’t only be noted by our potential divestment partners. Soon, anyone will be able to take an interest stake in EFL both before and after our public listing of the company on the South Pacific Stock Exchange. Given the level of scrutiny this transaction went through before FNPF ultimately made the decision to invest, it would not be a bad move to invest in EFL – so I encourage all those watching to think seriously about taking up, or increasing, their interest in our national energy provider, and more generally, take a look at investing in our bustling SPSE, or SPX, to grow their personal wealth.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’ve personally officiated at a number of extensions of our national electricity grid. I’ve seen firsthand the incredible advantages that reliable power brings to Fijian communities. Whether it’s the Fijian child who can study into the night thanks to energy from EFL, a roadside vendor who can keep running their business after the sun has set, or a concerned parent who can enjoy the comfort of a well-lit community at all hours of the night, our work to expand access to electricity is vital to Fiji’s prosperity, security and progress. With the ink not yet dry on this agreement, the dynamism and potential of this new partnership is clear: EFL is in its strongest position ever to deliver the level of services our people deserve, and put our entire energy industry on a more self-sustaining and responsible trajectory.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.