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By RACHNA LAL
Following the success of last year’s first-ever Fiji Business Forum, the Suva Chamber of Commerce and Industry has once again organised this forum this year.
The forum is being held today at the Holiday Inn Suva and will be attended by business stakeholders from around the country as well as Government representatives and regulatory bodies.
Chamber president, Dr Nur Bano Ali, said the forum targets to address issues and challenges facing businesses to improve the business environment.
She said the presence of Government was important as it was a key stakeholder in any development of policies affecting businesses and in terms of creating the necessary environment in the facilitation processes.
“Businesses have their problems and Government has its problems,” she said.
“We are trying to mitigate and facilitate the environment through this business forum so that both sides can share their arguments and come to a common ground so that policies can be formulated.”
And while some forums tend to, at times become only a talk fest, this has not been the case with the Fiji Business Forum.
Dr Ali revealed one of the positive outcomes of the forum last year had been the implementation of the credit guarantee scheme for small and medium enterprises by the Reserve Bank of Fiji.
“We were encouraged because of the positive initiative that came out of that forum and that is the motivation to continue with this forum annually,” she said.
The theme of the forum – ‘Let’s Get On With It’ has been carefully thoughtout.
There will be five sessions with the Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum setting the pace for the meeting through his opening address.
Dr Ali said: “The topics are on the key issues that need to be developed.”
The first session would be on ‘Investment and New Opportunities’ chaired by Investment Fiji chairman, Adrian Sofield.
Dr Ali said this session is particularly going to target what can be done to improve business processes for foreign investors and also what they can do for local reinvestment.
One of the key topics of discussion wo uld be local reinvestment.
Dr Ali said they felt there was no medium through which local reinvestment process could be taken into account.
“Local businesses are putting in millions of dollars to upgrade their facilities. But this goes under the radar because there is nobody which records these,” she said.
This will be followed by a session on ‘Tourism and Infrastructure’.
“This session will target the inadequacies of the infrastructure in the tourism sector,” she said.
The third session would be ‘Import Substitution and Energy Challenges’.
This will be followed by a session on ‘Regulatory Challenges’ with the last session being on ‘SME Development for Fiji’.