Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while delivering the 2022-23 National Budget has told the nation that the ‘Bula Boom’ is back.
This as the Fijian economy is conservatively projected to grow by 12.4 percent this year, its highest rate of growth ever.
The forecast total revenue stands at $2.9 billion dollars with the total expenditure at $3.8 billion, for a net deficit of $872 million.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the debt to Gross Domestic Product is projected to hit 85%.
Sayed-Khaiyum says through the first half of this year, Fiji is growing its economy adding more jobs.
As at May 2022, figures indicate 171, 000 people are now employed in the formal sector, which means 92 percent of the employees are back to work when compared to pre-COVID.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds the demand for labour rose steadily to May increasing by an astonishingly 168.3 percent on the year, with the tourism sector leading the surge.
Since January to June, Fiji has welcomed 205, 527 tourists, almost 50% of the total for the same period in 2019.
Sayed-Khaiyum says July is looking very strong as well as Fiji expects to easily exceed its target of 500, 000 tourist arrivals this year, which is 55 percent of pre-pandemic arrivals and that should mean $1.3b in total tourism earnings.
“Cumulative revenues collection as at 30th June 2022 amounted to $1.96b of which $1.5b were tax revenues. June tax collections exceeded the forecast by $11.6m as the tourism recovery bounced back strongly. And most importantly the wages paid to our people are up by $210m – 15% higher compared to the same six-month period last year. $210m in the pockets of our school children, tourism employees, airport staff, factory workers farmers and families.”
Sayed-Khaiyum says every dollar of this is owed to our economies once in a century comeback from a once in a century crisis.
This is the 4th national budget announced by the Fijian government since the beginning of the pandemic.
He adds to meet the crisis with a powerful and necessary stimulus, the Bainimarama government announced a 20% deficit in 2020-2021.
He says that figure fell to 16.2% in the 2021-22 financial year, and now in the 2022-23 financial year, it falls to a manageable 7.4% through a budget that is decisive and disciplined.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this budget is different from the previous three because the worst economic crisis in our history is over.
“We promised you in the darkest days of the crisis that our economy would not just recover but it would emerge from the pandemic with pace and resilience. Through government’s foresight and decisive leadership and with tremendous support and participation of the Fijian people we delivered on that promise.”
The Ministry adds this budget creates the certainty that our businesses need to plan, invest and hire and as prices for food, fertilizer and fuel remain extremely unpredictable.