Calls for action to address social challenges

April 19, 2024 7:02 am

Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad

Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad has called for urgent action to tackle social challenges and address the growing skills shortage.

In his ministerial statement in Parliament, he emphasized the need to prioritize issues such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), domestic violence and drug use which he described as generational problems requiring collective engagement.

Highlighting the reasons behind migration, Prof Prasad acknowledged the aspirations of Fijians seeking better opportunities abroad, citing the lack of secure healthcare and quality education in Fiji.

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He stressed the importance of addressing these challenges promptly to retain skilled personnel and attract investment.

“This has been our biggest challenge in some ways of implementing policies and in some ways the Hon Tikoduadua, the Minister for Home Affairs, will be rolling out some urgent measures to improve processing of work permits so that we can begin to get critical skills into the country and to get business, investment and construction moving faster.”

Prof Prasad outlined the shift in perspective regarding expatriate workers, noting the current shortage of local talent due to emigration.

He advocated for a progressive approach to importing skills, similar to that adopted by leading global economies to enhance efficiency and competitiveness.

Skills loss emerged as a critical concern for employers and investors with the Finance Ministry experiencing a significant loss of professional staff to migration and the private sector.

Prof Prasad also highlights the impact of skills migration on economic growth and emphasized the need for modern, progressive policies to manage human capital effectively.

The Minister adds that the government is committed to addressing these challenges and he has also urged action to ensure Fiji’s economic well-being.