Lack of trust and confidence in the Government and its overall administration of justice and policies is a “binding constraint” and the reason for the lack of private and foreign investment in the country, claims National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Prof Prasad said overall governance was “extremely critical” to creating the right investment climate, saying that the new Investment Act, which comes into force next month, fell short of this.
“You can have all these laws, you can change Investment Fiji’s laws, you can make it a promotion agency, whatever, but if the wider environment is not conducive for investors, they will not come,” he said.
“Investors watch when the Government legislates poorly.
“They watch when the Solicitor-General is sacked; they watch when the Government attacks the Auditor-General.
“Investors take note when independent public institutions are put under pressure by an overbearing government.
“Because they know that, one day, if they are on the wrong side of the government, there will be no independent authorities to protect them.”
Prof Prasad said investors needed to know that when things go wrong, they would not be subjected to the whims of a vengeful, irrational government.
“The new citizenship laws are also an impediment to attracting genuine investment.
“This government has twice within one year changed the citizenship laws requiring people to be in the country for 15 years before they can be considered for citizenship.
“When investors decide to come to a particular country, they don’t look at it in a vacuum, they come with their families, they come with an aspiration to live and stay and contribute positively.”
Prof Prasad said instead of gaining skilled people in Fiji, we are losing them.
“We have an exodus of our best and brightest leaving Fiji and yet we have draconian immigration laws which turn new people away” Professor Prasad claims.
“The prerequisite to a conducive investment climate is for a government to respect the rule of law and to understand that the government is not the boss.
“It requires leaders to understand that the government does not dictate everything and the government do not bend the rules to try to win everything.
“And this can only happen at the elections when this government is given the boot.”