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COVID-19 pandemic a job killer: PM

July 9, 2020 12:40 pm
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [File Photo]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly the job killer of the country as 115,000 Fijians have lost their jobs or have had their hours reduced.

While delivering his remarks at the International Labour Organisation’s Global Virtual Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, the Prime Minister highlighted the unique challenges presently faced by the Small Island Developing States which has severely affected important sectors of the economy particularly, tourism, trade and disruption in supply chains.

Bainimarama says while Fiji is a COVID-contained country with no cases outside of our quarantine facilities in over 80 days, the burden that Fijian people carry on their backs has not shifted an inch.

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“The floors of many factories are still quiet and with borders shut around the world, Fijian tourism has come to a halt and many jobs have still not returned, some may never.In total 115,000Fijians, one-third of our workforce have had their jobs lost or hours cut.”

The Prime Minister says he has met many of the employees and listened to their stories behind the staggering statistics.

Bainimarama says we need resources and not regulations better suited to larger labor markets.

He also highlighted some of Fiji’s strategic efforts in containing COVID-19.

“Let’s find opportunities in this crisis by recognizing how the ILO can better support employers and employees who rely on the stalwarts of small island economies like tourism and target support accordingly”.

He also highlighted some of Fiji’s strategic efforts in containing COVID-19.

“After decisively containing the virus, we launched a “COVID-Safe Economic Recovery”, re-opened much of our domestic economy. Our workplaces are operating in line with tailor-made, COVID-safe operation plans and we’ve launched a mobile application dubbed “careFIJI” that speeds up contact tracing efforts, if ever necessary. We’re opening “blue lanes” to allow private marine vessels to safely enter Fijian waters, a “Bula Bubble” to re-open travel with Australia and New Zealand and “Pacific Pathways” to reconnect with our smaller Pacific Island neighbours.”

He adds the Government has also created a new category of unemployment benefits to aid employees whose incomes have evaporated or hours have been slashed due to the pandemic.

The global virtual summit saw the participation of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a key speaker and also brought together some world leaders, Chiefs of other UN and international agencies, ILO member states and employers to bolster ideas and solutions of addressing the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

 

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