The Chairman of Sun Insurance, Mr. Padam Lala;
The Directors of Sun Insurance;
The Management of Sun Insurance;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very good evening everyone.
It is a pleasure to be able to join you here in the jet-set town this evening.
I know that the significance of this moment is not lost on any of us here today. One year ago, Fiji was in the throes of a once-in-a-century global pandemic. COVID-19 was ravaging our health system; entire towns and cities were being locked down; and families were being kept apart from each other because of necessary quarantining. With our border shut to the outside world, our Tourism Industry collapsed virtually overnight, driving thousands into unemployment and effectively dealing us our hardest economic blow in recorded history.
Of course, we were not the only ones. COVID-19 brought the world’s largest nations to their knees – setting us back decades in tackling poverty, gender equality, education, youth unemployment, disability rights and clean energy advancements to name a few.
No epidemic is ever just a health issue, and COVID-19 made that fact crystal clear on the global stage. The only reason Fiji has reached the point at which we are today—to be able to gather in this room for the opening of a new business house – is that Government identified very early on in the pandemic that we had to approach recovery as an economic issue, a livelihood issue, a social issue, and a political issue.
The key that unlocked solutions to all those challenges, of course, was vaccinations. Thanks in no small part to our successful nation-wide vaccination campaign, Fiji is back in business. We are welcoming international travellers again, and those travellers are showing how much they missed us.
I’m proud to reveal that last month alone, we welcomed over forty-six thousand visitors to Fiji.
That brings total arrivals this year to over ninety-five thousand. And, looking at numbers since our borders first re-opened, Fiji has received approximately one hundred and nineteen thousand visitors to our beautiful shores.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, should give every Fijian the courage to hope again.
As we see construction and development projects spring back to life, I am happy to witness a Fijian-owned company opening this beautiful building today. A $15 Million project that serves as a concrete testament to the market confidence of our local business community.
I am told that a twin building is being developed just next door – so by mid-2024, the construction phase of the Legalega twin towers will have provided employment for a total of 350 Fijians and simultaneously pumped millions of dollars into our local economy.
I’m proud of what my Government’s investor friendly policies have helped create for Fiji: more jobs, more opportunity and more development. Our target is to maintain total investments at twenty five percent of the Gross Domestic Product. In addition, we are focused on increasing private sector investments to over fifteen percent of GDP by 2036.
And, crucially, we have put in place laws that ensure that investors are not the only ones reaping the rewards, by creating and safeguarding the employment opportunities of ordinary Fijians.
As is our commitment to local landowners and their communities. All local and foreign investors are approved on the premise that they will be supporting Fiji’s inclusive and sustainable development. So, Government legislation now ensures the economic benefits from large-scale investments are positively impacting other Fijian micro, small and medium enterprises, including those in the rural and maritime areas. No one can be left behind.
Our overall vision of “Transforming Fiji” is dependent on the key role that private sector companies – like SUN Insurance – play in driving economic development, and ultimately in improving the well-being of all Fijians.
As I extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes for the future of this modern Fijian property, for the future tenants and for the management and staff of SUN Insurance, I think the company’s catch phrase sums it up best…”VINAKA SUN”!
Vinaka Vakalevu – Thank you.