11 May 2007

Fiji economic indicators point to severe downturn

8:30 am on 11 May 2007

Economic indicators are pointing to a severe downturn in Fiji's economy with businesses contracting and people losing jobs in the wake of the military takeover last December.

Fiji's two breweries in Suva and Lautoka are shutting down temporarily for a week from Monday while the distillery in Lautoka will shut down for a month.

The general manager of Fosters Group Pacific Limited, Ross Shaw, has cited the downturn in business and difficult trading conditions experienced since early December for the closures.

The Fiji Times reports that the Employers Federation has confirmed manufacturing plants have taken cost cutting measures with some workers being told they would be re-employed if the economy picks up again.

The national airline, Air Pacific, has reported an 11% downturn in passenger numbers with some people choosing not to travel and others unable to travel because of travel bans imposed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Yet others are getting around travel bans by flying Korean Airlines through South Korea.

The president of the Fiji - Australia business council, Caz Tebbutt, says the longer it takes Fiji to return to democracy the worse it would get.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji says inflation rose from 3.6% in February to 4.7% in March and it is predicting that the economy will contract further.