The idea that the economy is now healthy is a lie. This year and next year a lot of money, mostly borrowed, is being pumped into the economy to try to breathe life into it after six years of uninterupted disaster. This what the Asian Development Bank has to say on the subject. “The Fijian economy is not achieving its potential. Average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth during 2006–2012 was negligible (0.7%), well below the government target of 5%, and below the modest growth achieved during 2001–2005 (2.4%).”
There it is. Qarase achieved a modest 2.4% growth rate between 2001 and 2005. Bainimrama is claiming 2.25% for this year and hoping for 3% next year. Even if this achieved his record will be a long way short of the Qarase’s.
Year after year school leavers and university graduates have poured onto a stagnant job market. Many have been forced overseas to find jobs. A lucky few with military connections have found jobs in the expanding army. It’s not yet a lost generation, but give Bainimarama time and he’ll complete the job.
The basic problem with Bainimarama’s impact on the economy is lack of investment. Businesses are reluctant to put their money into investments in Fiji while there is a government which changes the rules to suit itself. Worst of all, the court system is open to blatant interference. Any business contemplating investing in Fiji will be told the same thing by any lawyer outside the AS-K fold. The interim Attorney General will tolerate no dissent. Judges and magistrates who defy him are fired.
And then there’s the decree disease. We’ve had not only seven years of rule by decree, many of the important decrees contain the clause that state that no decision taken by the executive can be appealed in any court or tribunal of any kind. One such decree is the Land Use Decree.
Don’t take my word for it. This is what the Asian Development Bank says: “Structural weaknesses combined with political uncertainty have not been conducive to economic growth. They have deterred private investment, and contributed to a decline in social and economic infrastructure and worsening hardship and poverty. ” “Political uncertainty” is the diplomatic way of saying no-one knows what the Government will do. It operates on the whims of one or two men fed by who knows what information.