New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $200 million (F$430 million) policy-based loan to boost investment in Fiji’s private sector to help the country’s economy cope with, and rebound from, the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The loan will help create a more conducive environment for private investment and business owners. It will also support reforms to improve the management of public finances and strengthen the performance of state-owned enterprises, which will have benefits for the private sector.
The assistance is the third phase of a program developed in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the World Bank Group, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Financial and technical support for the program was provided by ADB, the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the World Bank Group, and the International Monetary Fund’s Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre.
“ADB is not only supporting Fiji’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also working to create a business environment conducive to private sector growth, which in turn will drive economic recovery and long-term growth through investment,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez.
“Fiji appreciates ADB’s well-placed faith in our capacity to implement policy reforms, which build private sector confidence in the face of COVID-19’s severe economic challenges. As this pandemic decimates the world economy, activity in both the private and public sectors is critical to protecting Fijian livelihoods and stimulating a long-term economic recovery,” said Fiji Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “We look to our multilateral partners, like ADB, to continue their support toward Fiji’s traditional and innovative approaches to reviving the sectors most severely impacted by COVID-19.”
The program supports reforms that will help Fiji’s tourism-dependent economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilience to future economic and fiscal shocks. Reforms include strengthening investor rights and streamlining the investment approval process. Access to finance will be improved through the activation of the ADB-supported Personal Property Securities Registry, which makes it easier for people to secure loans to start or grow a business using moveable assets. This reform will particularly benefit women who are unlikely to have fixed assets such as land. Simplifying the application process for construction permits will also improve the country’s ease of doing business process.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.