Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister Mr Yogesh Karan highlighted the need for collective action and genuine partnerships as a way forward to tackle the socio-economic crisis during this post COVID-19 era.
With the pandemic directly affecting our food security, international trade and climate resilience of the Small Island Developing States, among other important issues, the Permanent Secretary said durable and genuine partnerships are important, particularly for Fiji to assist the country in its road to economic and social recovery.
Mr Karan, while delivering his opening remarks at the presentation of the UN’s Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) report for Fiji, said the world is in severe recession, the magnitude of which has not been experienced since the Great Depression.
“Access to concessional finance will be critical in dealing with fast-forwarded fiscal and debt risks. Also, with the bulging fiscal deficits because of our priority response to COVID-19, the role and nature of development financing instruments will become critical in trying to minimise national debt levels.
“There’s a need for international financial institutions, development partners and even the private sector to acknowledge the special circumstances of Small Island Developing States like ours, with targeted and accessible financing being critical now more than ever.
“We know that the pandemic has caused societies to change irrevocably, it is now time to bring our concerted attention on recovering better for sustainability.”
The Permanent Secretary whilst co-chairing the dialogue event with Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Fiji Multi-Country Office, said “we need to invest and focus on a health system that will shield any future outbreaks and mitigate any further economic impacts.”
“For digital transformation, we all agree that using IT as an enabler will be instrumental in the way we recover from this pandemic. As highlighted in this report, making Fiji an ICT Hub for the Pacific will also pave the way for the region that can initially target 0.25 per cent of a multi-billion industry which includes back office operations, internet and software app development.
“For the environment, the importance of mainstreaming climate change agenda in the recovery process is critical. Risk reduction and mitigation measures followed by science and data are key.
“We must resist any attempt to return to the pre-pandemic environmentally-unsustainable development path but rather, capitalise on the opportunity to build back better; sustainably, socially and economically-better.”
The Permanent Secretary also took the opportunity to thank the United Nations for preparing the assessment report and also thanked development partners for its continued support and partnership.
Meanwhile, the assessment report focuses on a series of in-depth analysis on actual and potential losses for Fiji’s economy and vulnerable groups as a result of the pandemic. The report also contains key recommendations on the most effective policy interventions for COVID-19.