Economic growth returns to the Pacific region

Economic growth returns to the Pacific region, said a World Bank economist for the Pacific on Tuesday.

The World Bank’s lead economist for the Pacific David Gould said that debt and inflation remain key concerns for countries such as Fiji, according to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Gould said that Pacific nations including Fiji will need to consider reforms and policies and reduce future public debt risks to minimize the impacts of inflation and global economic uncertainty.

Fiji was the strongest performing Pacific economy in 2022, buoyed by a rebounding tourism sector, following several years of negative growth due to the pandemic, he said, adding that Fiji is forecast to continue a stable growth trajectory and see inflation fall as low as 2 percent through 2023.

The economist said that Fiji’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to above 70 percent, which is among the highest in the region.

After three years of economic contraction, Fiji’s economic growth in last year is estimated to have climbed to 15 percent, yet the output is expected to remain below 2019 levels until 2024.

Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Biman Prasad said on Monday that the island nation’s high level of debt, which will increase to around 10 billion Fiji dollars (about 4.5 billion U.S. dollars) by July this year, is due to mismanagement and wastage of funds.

He reassured the public that the coalition government is taking measures to address them. ■

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