The United Nations has agreed to support the Fiji Government to convene a roundtable of development partners, the private sector and key stakeholders to discuss best approaches to supporting SMEs and cooperatives in Fiji long-term, with economic opportunity and benefit for people.
This has been highlighted after the Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica met with UN Resident Coordinator to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Sanaka Samarasinha in Suva.
Samarasinha was also joined by UN agency heads from UN Development Program, UN Commission on Trade and Development and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Discussions included ways to ensure that the support given to small, medium enterprises is sustainable long-term, and that it creates economic opportunities for the people of Fiji, the development of guidelines for development partners, such as the UN to follow, as well as ways to best connect MSEs to each other, and to key markets while also strengthening existing co-operatives in Fiji and expanding cooperatives, especially those in remote areas, such as in the Lau Group.
Kamikamica says another priority area for the Fiji Government is the reviewing of Fiji’s media laws and with an industry meeting scheduled for next week, the UN has confirmed it will use this crucial meeting to provide inputs on ways to align Fiji’s media laws to global standards.
Meanwhile, Samarasinha shared personal experiences of official trips to the Lau Group, where he witnessed a break-down between cooperatives and a middleman, often resulting in fishing and copra industry cooperatives suffering. Samarasinha says it is crucial for the beneficiaries of these projects that includes the UN’s projects and other development partner projects to actually be able to benefit from development partner support in the long-term.
He says they must find ways to ensure projects do not only support challenges short-term, they must be long-term solutions and the people who need it most are the ones who should benefit most from them. UNCTAD Pacific Agency Head, Jayvee Santos, says UNCTAD will launch an online Trade Portal this year, which will show the step-by-step process of exporting certain commodities to Fiji or out of Fiji, a tool which will benefit importers and exporters alike, with Fiji-specific guidance per commodity.
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