With the investment drought gripping Fiji, the Fiji Trade and Investment Board has never been more important. But what hope has it got with the antics of its chairman Francis Narayan.
His latest act of genius is to threaten to cancel the projects that have been approved but not started. Does he expect that investors who have shown understandable caution will suddenly throw caution to the wind and get in before it’s too late? The mere making of the threat confirms that Fiji is no place to invest while we still have an Illegal regime in place.
A career spent handling other people’s money in the ADB has given Francis a very poor sense of the way investors think about their own money. It may surprise him, but they think about their money in roughly the same way he thinks about his. They work hard to get it and they think carefully about how safe it is.
In June this year Francis made a speech at the Fiji Institute of Accountants Annual Congress. The highlight of this was an admission that investment as a percentage of GDP reached an all time low of 15 percent in 2007. And that was when GDP was shrinking. But don’t expect 2008 to be any better.
Francis’s speech is on the FTIB web-site, reprinted with all his speaking notes still included in the text. It’s got some gems such as “quote statistics”, “refer to examples” etc. The only thing missing is “make a joke” after he quotes the devastating statistic on the low level of investment.
We can give Francis credit for one thing: he has given himself a year to turn Fiji’s investment situation around. That year will be up in December. It’s a pity that the Illegal Regime for which he works has not set such a specific target for any of its alleged goals.