FIJI AS A PLACE TO LIVE
Fiji stands out amongst Pacific island economies in terms of the size of its natural resource endowment and its level of economic and social development. It has a relatively well-educated population, a well-developed entrepreneurial class, good physical infrastructure and it is the commercial capital for much of the Pacific island economic activity, as well as being the focal point for much of the South Pacific island trade. Its central geographical location also gives Fiji favourable access to international markets.
Fiji is the one of the largest South Pacific island countries in population and land area. The population is concentrated on the two largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, with the nation's capital, Suva, located on Viti Levu.
Following a slowdown in economic growth in the late 1980's the Fiji Government launched a far-reaching economic reform programme that sought to deregulate the economy and promote the development of internationally competitive industries and encourage private sector investment.
The Fiji Government has adopted a development policy that focuses on increasing the level of foreign and domestic investment in Fiji. As part of this policy, much emphasis is being placed on infrastructure improvements, such as the development of new roads, the reticulation of electricity and water, and improved domestic and international communication systems.
Fiji has two international airports: Nadi, which is Fiji's principal gateway, often regarded as the "crossroads of the South Pacific" and Nausori airport near Suva. Ferries and domestic airlines offer daily links to other major islands. Fiji also has 4 major ports, two located on Viti Levu, one on Vanua Levu and one on Ovalau.
The fully-Government owned companies, Post Fiji Ltd., and Telecom Fiji Ltd provide all postal and domestic telephone services. Mobile cellular telephone services are provided by Vodafone (Fiji), and international telephone services are provided by Fiji International Telecommunications Ltd (FINTEL). Telecom Fiji Ltd. also provides Internet connections, thereby making access to the 'information super-highway' possible and affordable for local users.
Wherever existing infrastructure is not sufficent to meet the needs of a mineral sector investment project, Government will seek, wherever possible to facilitate such construction, providing that it serves both mine and public purposes. To be considered for Government participation, infrastructure projects must: be cost effective, have quantifiable social benefits, contribute to rural or social development, and be within the general scope of public sector infrastructure investment planning criteria. The nature of Government's involvement will vary according to the type of infrastructure required, although, in general Government takes a flexible approach towards infrastructure development and management.
Working In Fiji
Proper authority, in the form of a permit, is required for all those wishing to work or reside in Fiji. Work permits are issued to people holding non-immigrant visas by the Department of Immigration. The Immigration Department which controls the localisation process, has adopted a facilitatory approach towards mineral sector investors, recognising the specialised labour requirements of that industry relative to other sectors. There are no strict localization targets or rigid localization schedules in Fiji. However, experience has shown that Fiji workers are highly trainable, flexible and motivated.
People And Culture
Fiji is home to 772,700 (1996 estimate) people of diverse ethnic origins. The population comprises indigenous Fijians (50%), people of Indian origin (44.8%), European, Chinese and others (5.2%). English is the official language, although the various ethnic groups speak their own vernacular.
Project sponsors are urged to see that all construction and operating personnel undergo a social orientation course about the people and customs of the mining region. Government, through the Mineral Resources Department, and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, will coordinate such courses.