Sofitel’s $30M Facelift


The renovations and refurbishment are being done with minimum disruptions to guests.

Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa’s $30 million refurbishments will set this renowned resort apart from many other resorts in Fiji. The latest area under refurbishment is the arrival area at the entrance,foyer and reservations and with the images showing what the transformation would look like, the sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa will surely set itself apart from major tourist destinations in Fiji.

The resort has already completed the refurbishment of the famous Watui Beach Club and its rooms, the newly built Kid’s Club and restaurants including the new concept Bazaar kitchen.

The new buffet restaurant is the first of its kind in Fiji and features seven interactive kitchens French,Fijian,Arabic, Indian,Japanese,Chinese and American Grill.

Republik Nightclub

The resort opened its $1.6million Republik Nightclub in December and is the only nightclub on Denarau Island which features international disc jockeys on special occasions.

The resort’s director of sales and marketing Michael Bell said the entrance and foyer had been closed.

” Yes this is currently offline for renovation till early March 2020,” Mr Bell said.

He added the resort ahd received excellent feedback for both the Republik Nightclub as well as the Baazar Kitchen.

” This year the resort would be looking at the renovations and refurbishment of three wings of guest rooms on the family section.

” We are in discussions to possibly add another wing of rooms, about 66 rooms in total to the hotel.

” The wing would run down the family side of the resort next to our boundary with Hilton”.

However Mr Bell did not disclose when work on this new additional wing would start.

The renovations and refurbishment are being done with minimum disruptions to guests.

Credit: FijiSun


Bayshore unveils new website


For survival in this tech savvy world, we need to have a presence and a product which is customer friendly and easy to use.

This has prompted Bayshore Real estate to revamp itself and bring a product which is user friendly, faster to use and offers viewers a chance to find a solution to their housing needs whether it be a rental or the purchase of a lot of land.

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New $40mil project for Nadi


Wailoaloa Developments Pte Limited earlier this week carried out the groundbreaking ceremony for their $40 million Palm Beach Estate Townhouses Project at Wailoaloa, Nadi.

The company, fully owned by Hari Punja and Sons, said the development was launched at a level that was not previously available in Fiji.

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Limited activities on the sale of properties: DR Hassan


The Real Estate sector continues to feel the impacts of the pandemic as there is a gradual decrease in the number of properties being sold.

Real Estate Agents Licensing Board had recorded 123 sales in February however in April only 80 properties were sold.

REALB Chair Dr Abdul Hassan says there are limited activities on the sale of properties.

“Since the COVID-19 everything has been on standstill, nothing has been moving so the people who were investing in the higher end properties they are not doing that.”

Dr Hassan says in 2018- 143 properties were sold for April however this year only 80 properties were bought.

Credit: FBC

Date: 6/7/2020

FCCC investigation identifies cheating tenants

Fijians unaffected by COVID-19 are taking advantage of the pandemic to claim they can’t afford to pay rent.

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has come across cases where individuals who’ve not felt any financial fallout are lying about having been made redundant, sent on leave without pay or working reduced hours.

Chief Executive Joel Abraham says upon investigating, the FCCC found these claims were false.

“There are some tenants who have become quite creative. Instances where there’s slight reduced hours and two people were working in the household saying we can’t pay any rent. Upon further investigation we found that they had the ability to pay the rent.”

Abraham says they are now carefully scrutinizing each case to determine the authenticity of the complaints.

“ There was one lady that called me up from Nadi, she said I am under a lot of stress and I can’t do anything. There’s no food at home, my husband is a carpenter and we don’t have anything to eat and we can’t pay our rent. I started asking her the same basic questions. How many people in your household, what were you doing before COVID-19 hit? It turns out she does have two children who work. They are currently in employment.”

Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation CEO, Kameli Batiweti has suggested that tenants should provide proof of their employment status when asking for rent holidays.

“If you have your evidence then that backs up your talk. You negotiate with your landlord. If you don’t have any evidence to provide your landlord then that’s a different story it’s just based on trust in that regard but as a member of the employer – employers are always happy to provide those letters.”

The FCCC says landlords and tenants have a contract agreement and if tenants are unable to afford the rent, then they should engage in social dialogue to reach a new agreement.

Credit: FBC

Date: 6/7/2020

Real Estate Agents reposition themselves


Real Estate Agents are now repositioning themselves to be able to earn a living until the sector gains consumer confidence.

Bayshore Real Estate Director Arif Khan says rental income has dropped and agents have cut down on expenses.

Khan adds many Fijians are now opting for low budget houses.

“There are still people who are making adjustments in their lives. They lived in a very luxury house paying $5000 but they are now moving to something around $2500. So we are noticing this trend where people are downgrading.”

Khan says as tourism activity remains muted, many Fijians working in the sector have returned to their villages, impacting landlords in Nadi and Lautoka who are now losing rental income.

Credit: FBC

Date: 2/7/2020

40% of businesses on partial operations and risk closing


A recent survey by the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation has indicated that 40% of its members are on partial operations and risk closing.

FCEF President Sandeep Chauhan says a lot of businesses have suffered throughout the world and Fiji is no exception.

Chauhan says many local businesses are not operating at a hundred percent since the pandemic hit adding that a lot of business houses are struggling to remain open.

“We’re expecting about 40% of the businesses have had some sort of disruption to their business. Either some have closed down, some have partially closed or scaled back hours. If you go around the country you’ll see different scenarios or from one township to another so if you look at Nadi which is kind of operating at very little on a very minimal scale but on the other hand when you look at towns like Ba or even cities like Suva they’re scaling. They’re still operating but perhaps not at 100%.”

The Federation says it has also made its submissions for the 2020/2021 National Budget.

“Our submissions have been around helping to keep money within the businesses so if we can come up with incentives that will mean that businesses can keep operating with having the cash in the business – then they can keep people employed abit longer then what they would have otherwise. Because they will need money, so gone are the days where you could look at a balance sheet and say we’ve got a very healthy business but that doesn’t necessarily equate to cash.”

The FCEF yesterday signed an MOU with Fiji Trades Union Congress to implement a Transition to Business project which aims to assist redundant workers venturing into self-employment.

Credit: FBC

Date: 2/7/2020

PRB has not evicted anyone from any of their flats during the COVID-19 period – Patrict Veu

Public Rental Board Acting General Manager, Patrick Veu confirms that no one has been evicted from any of their flats during the COVID-19 period, however people who were earning more than $16,500 and have lost their jobs or are on reduced hours have been reconsidered to stay in their flats.

Veu says families whose annual income is more than $16,500 are not eligible for PRB flats.

He says they have issued eviction notices but the actual process of getting people to move out of the flats because they are facing financial difficulties has not been done.

Veu says they have slowed down this process.

He says they are trying to identify those who are still earning more than $16,500 to serve them with notices as they are not eligible to live in these flats.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Local Government and Housing Premila Kumar says 112 PRB tenants have been served with eviction notices because they do not qualify to live in those flats. Kumar says the flats are given to families on subsidized rates, which simply means that they try and save money and move out when they have enough savings.

PRB has 24 rental estates comprising 1,753 rental flats.

Credit: Fijivillage

Date: 2/7/2020

RBF says labour market conditions worsen while consumption and VAT collections continue to contract

The Reserve Bank of Fiji. [image: file]

The Reserve Bank of Fiji states that overall labour market conditions have worsened due to the weakening domestic economy.

The RBF says a total of 85,959 FNPF members received around $54.2 million under the COVID-19 withdrawal scheme in phase one, while 15,920 members will be paid around $17.5 million in phase two over a period of 10 weeks.

In addition, the number of jobs advertised contracted by a significant 48.8 percent on an annual basis up to May, indicating depressed recruitment intentions and business activities.

Upto May, contractions were noted in commercial banks’ new lending for consumption purposes by 20.2 percent, net VAT collections was down by 30.1 percent, as well as registrations for new vehicles were down by 45.3 percent and secondhand vehicles were down by 65.5 percent. In the same period, domestic cement sales were down by 18.8 percent and new lending for building and construction purposes were down by 28.7 percent.

Excess liquidity in the banking system remained ample at $849 million at the end of May on account of RBF’s investment in government bonds, higher foreign reserves and the reduction in currency in circulation over the month.

Annual inflation fell further to -1.7 percent in May from -1.3 percent noted in April and was significantly lower than the 2.1 percent recorded in May 2019. The outcome was largely driven by lower prices for yaqona, fruits and vegetables, kerosene, petrol and diesel.

As at today, foreign reserves totaled $2.181 billion, sufficient to cover 6.8 months of retained imports.

Credit: Fijivillage

Date: 30/6/2020

Housing Authority receives 334 applications


The Housing Authority has received 334 applications for COVID-19 assistance.

220 applications are from the Central and 114 from the Western Division.

271 applications have been approved while 11 are still being processed. Five are awaiting a committee decision, 10 have been returned for further information and 37 have been declined.

Relief packages include 3 months loan repayment holiday, extension of loan term without fees, interest only repayments or 3 months’ loan repayment holiday with extension of loan term.

The Authority says further relief assistance will be provided to customers on a case by case basis.

Credit: FBC

Date: 30/6/2020

2020/2021 National budget to focus on creating more economic activity


The Permanent Secretary for Economy Makereta Konrote says the 2020/2021 National Budget will be focused on creating more economic activity.

Konrote says one of the important aspects of a budget is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to be able to lead economic recovery after COVID-19.

She adds that the government is looking at how it can introduce policies based on private sector submissions employment creation and getting the economy moving again.

“Whether that’s by way of construction activities or manufacturing or in the resource based sectors – agriculture, forestry or fisheries. I think the other thing we are looking at also is in terms of how we are able to support those who have been impacted by way of employment.”

The Ministry of Economy has received over 200 budget submissions from across the private sector as consultations were held in major centres.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum earlier highlighted that the opening of schools this week will also see the economy starting to move.

“And of course that means when the schools kids travel now the buses will start running and then of course they go to the shops and buy their Chinese lolly or whatever it is and the economy starts moving. And that level engagement starts taking place. But at the same time there is still measures being put in place to ensure that there is some form of safety around that.”

The 2020/2021 National Budget will be announced on the 17th of July.

FICAC to investigate alleged corruption at Housing Authority

The Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption confirms they have received a complaint in relation to the allegations of corruption at the Housing Authority.

FBC News understands this complaint arose from the ongoing investigation at the Housing Authority.

Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar had earlier confirmed to FBC News that the current investigation has led to the termination of eight staff.

Kumar says these staff were allegedly engaged in abuse of office and corrupt practices.

It is alleged that these staff registered their personal business by giving Housing Authority address and they were making plans for Housing Authority clients and pocketing that money.

Kumar says they are coming up with new policies for the housing sector.

In an interview with FBC News, the Housing Minister had admitted a high level of corruption at the Authority.

The Minister says Fijians have questioned her about the lots allocated to people in Tacirua and Wainibuku, which were initially set aside for low-income earners.

Kumar says amazingly some people had declared that their household income was $20,000 however they have built two-storey buildings in these areas.

The investigation is expected to conclude soon.

Credit: FBC

Date: 26/6/2020

Court cases await Housing Authority frauds


Fijians who acquired Housing Authority lots through dishonest means will now face legal action.

Minister for Housing Premila Kumar says an investigation into the practices at Housing Authority reveals some people have declared false information by claiming their household income was $20,000.

But, they’ve managed to build double-storey houses in these areas.

The Minister Responsible says they are now tightening the procedures and processes used to allocate lots.

She says they are now focusing on digitization, as storing information and having a database has not worked.

“How can we allocate lots, I think the fairer system would be that before the lots are ready we advertise that there are 400 lots in this particular area, people can put in their application at least four months in advance before the lots are ready and we can cross-check all this information with the Titles Office, FRCS and with FNPF. So once we have done this verification we will know exactly how many applications qualify for those lots than we can have a barrel draw which is far better than asking people to put in their applications and you store those applications.”

Kumar says they want to ensure that such practices are not repeated.

“People have jumped the queue, they have got houses already as compared to those genuine customers who could not approach an official from the Housing Authority. They still waiting so we are still investigating this matter and once we have concluded the investigation those applicants who lied, who were not honest their cases will be reported. We will take their matter to court.”

Due to these corrupt practices, many Fijians have been suffering for years and are still waiting for lots.

Credit: FBC

Date: 25/6/2020