Editorial comment | Positive outcome

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Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Ariff Ali (left) hands over a cheque to Finance minister Biman Prasad in Suva, on Mon 25 Sept 20234. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

It is encouraging to know that Fiji’s financial system remains sound and stable and the Reserve Bank of Fiji continues to keep a close eye on the financial sector stability.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Professor Biman Prasad said this after the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) submitted its 2022-2023 audited financial statements with its operations report for its 2023 financial year.

We learn that the RBF recorded a net profit of $102.2 million for the financial year ending July 31, 2023, which, according to RBF governor Ariff Ali, was an all-time high profit which directly resulted from higher interest rates in the global financial markets and prudent management of the nation’s foreign reserves invested in our major trading partner economies. Now that’s a mouthful!

Prof Prasad said subsequently, the Government would receive $103.4m which included the profit of $102.2m plus $2.1m being one-fifth of the Revaluation Reserve Account. The twin monetary policy objectives of maintaining adequate foreign reserves and price stability have been safeguarded at the end of July 2023, he remarked.

“Foreign reserves stood at $3.6 billion, sufficient to cover 6.3 months of retained imports while inflation averaged around 2.7 per cent in 2022-2023.”

Prof Prasad said the Government would continue to work together with the RBF in growing the economy, creating more jobs, ensuring financial sector stability and promoting price stability.

“The Fijian economy remains firm on its recovery path, led by a strong rebound in tourism-related sectors. Following a 20.0 per cent growth in 2022, the Fijian economy is projected to grow by 8 per cent this year and moderate to 3.8 per cent in 2024,” he said.

Now let’s look at this from the perspective of the average man and woman on the streets. What do they want? What do they need?

They will not be gripped by figures. For many Fijians, what matters is putting bread on the table. What matters is having a roof over their heads, and living, surviving.

They want to be able to wake up in the morning, and be able to have breakfast, get ready for work and school, and have the peace of mind to do that, and be happy to return home afterwards.

Many Fijians want a job. Employment is critically high on their list of priorities. That’s why many are heading across to Australia and New Zealand for employment opportunities.

Ultimately what matters is life itself. They want to provide the base for that. For life itself. Then they want a future. A bright future. Right now, some aren’t even thinking that far.

They are struggling daily. They are living life on the brink of poverty, and many are below the poverty line, and they have been like that for years. So in essence, any change in their fortunes will be welcomed with open arms.

It is just the way things are. It is unfortunate, but life has been like that for many of them over the years.

So this latest report is encouraging. It is positive and we look forward to some good outcomes that will filter down eventually to the people that matter.