The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency John Feakes, has applauded the efforts of the Fijian Government in taking appropriate measures to manage the Fijian economy during the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Mr Feakes made this comment during the signing of an agreement that tops up an additional AUD of $35 million (approx.FJ$55.23m) towards the general budget support.

We are delighted to provide this extra funding built on our previous support to Fiji and our current tranche of money is a further sign and vote of confidence in your management not only of the economy but this dreadful COVID pandemic,” he said.“We know this will be put to good use and that is why we are so delighted to provide it.”

Mr Feakes added.“You moved decisively, you moved strongly, you made the tough decisions quickly and I am confident that if Fijians listen to the advice being provided by Dr. Fong and others then Fiji will get this current outbreak under control like the same way they did last year.”

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum acknowledged and thanked the Australian Government for their timely support.

“This AUD $35 million for direct budget support was not budgeted for this financial year but as you can imagine the effect of the past couple of weeks has had an enormous impact on Government’s ability to cater for the revenue it had already factored into the budget,” the A-G highlighted.

“We had signed an AUD $22.5 million grant (FJD $35.6m) with DFAT in December 2020 and of this, AUD$20 (FJ$31.56m) million was for direct budget support for social welfare payments and AUD $2.5 million (FJ$3.94m) was for general budget support.

This was contingent upon collaboration with the World Bank policy reforms, namely in areas of strengthening fiscal and debt management, promoting private sector led recovery, enhancing climate, disaster and social resilience, and also to be able to gender mainstream into not just in our budgetary processes but also our overall administrative processes.”

“Together with the two direct budget support we have received, the total sum is now AUD $57.5 million (FJD $91 million),” the A-G added.“This is part of the overall Government reforms that have taken place that we have been working on with Australian and New Zealand governments and also with our multilateral partners, — the World Bank and Asian Development Bank,” he said.

“In respect of the enormous strides we have made changes to the financial management – the laws, the regulations, and our medium-term debt strategy that we have put in place”.

The A-G further thanked the Australian Government and the International Finance Corporation with regard to the Public Private Partnership of the Lautoka and Ba Hospitals.

“We want to be good partners with Australia and we would like to thank you overall for the enormous level of personal commitment that you have shown together with the Australian Government and its people,” he said.

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