24 May 2017

Fiji govt says $US2 billion debt 'prudently' managed

3:44 pm on 24 May 2017

Fiji's Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has reiterated Fiji's more than US$2 billion of debt is manageable.

Fiji money

Photo: 123rf

He told Fiji's parliament outstanding debt stood at $US2.15 billion at the end of April.

He said while the nominal level of debt had increased, the ratio of debt to how much the country produces - its gross domestic product (GDP) - had declined from 52 percent in 2007 to 44 percent at the end of April.

He said the target was to keep that ratio below 50 percent.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said 70 percent of the debt was from onshore, meaning a low level of foreign currency exposure and he says foreign reserves and revenue are at healthy levels.

Foreign reserves stood at $US0.98 billion dollars at the end of April, sufficient to cover five-and-a-half months of imports which he says is above the four month international benchmark.

He said revenue for 2017 was forecast at $US1.44 billion.

Bill Gavoka of the opposition SODELPA party warned Fiji's economy was vulnerable to the elements and its GDP could easily be wiped out.

He said debt per capita is a more meaningful measure of debt and the burden per person had increased from $US2200 in 2013 to $US2600 in 2016.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji was spending to enhance Fiji's productive capacity and building infrastructure in a smart way, with a climate sensitive National Development Plan being consulted on.