Sofitel’s $30M Facelift

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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

Date:26/01/20

Bayshore unveils new website

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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

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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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Fiji-China Trade Expo creates opportunities

[SOURCE: INVESTMENT FIJI]

Investment Fiji in partnership with the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) China and the Chinese Embassy launched the Fiji-China Trade Expo series.

Chief Executive, Craig Strong says the online exhibition is part of Investment Fiji’s Global Trade expo series to create opportunities for Fijian businesses in these trying times.

He adds this exhibition is part of their ongoing monthly expo series that focuses on key markets to promote premium Fijian products and services.

Fiji’s targeted markets include New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Europe, and the United States.

“What is also fitting is our virtual expo this month is combined with PTI China and Fiji Embassy Investment promotional event in Beijing allowing our exporters to showcase some of their products of the Pacific and also giving you, our potential investors the opportunity to see investment projects that are currently available here in Fiji.”

Strong highlights China was one of Fiji’s largest export destinations last year which stood at 157 percent. Fiji exports woodchips, iron ores, mineral water, timber and tuna to China.

The expo showcases over 60 Fijian companies in the health & cosmetics, and food & beverages sector among others.

Credit: FBC

Date: May 12, 2021

New Caledonia businesses show interest in Fiji

Aerial View of Suva City

The Fiji and New Caledonia e-trade expo has received a positive response since its launch last month.

Investment Fiji’s Trade and Investment Manager, Kamal Chetty says some New Caledonia businesses have shown interest in certain commodities that Fiji has to offer.

Chetty says the expo is a pathway where Fiji and New Caledonia can explore business opportunities, secure new markets and attract investors.

“Out of that, we have received several interests into cocoa products, moringa products, sugar, noni juice, hand sanitizers, kava, and other wood products. This has been the kind of interest to date but it will continue for another one month.”

Fiji had also launched its e-trade expo with Australia and this is expected to continue for another month.

Credit: Fbc News

Date: 6/5/2021

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$10m Investment To Carry On Works Despite Lockdown

Artist impression of the Charan Katonivere Holding Limited Complex.

Second lockdown will not affect construction of $10 million complex and business will continue as usual.

These were the words of Charan Jeath Singh (CJS) Group of Companies operations manager, Sanjay Kirpa.

Speaking in regards to the stateof- the-art, Charan Katonivere Holding Limited Complex, being constructed in Nakasi, he said the group is confident in the development.

“Nakasi also has the biggest populationin the Suva-Nausori corridor so we are confident customers would love the services we have to offer,” he said.

Mr Kirpal highlighted the opening of the complex would create around 150 to 200 jobs.

He said during the global pandemic, the complex would also mean creating livelihood for theresidents of Nakasi.

“The customers can expect modern facilities and satisfaction from the services.”

The construction work of the complex is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

What To Expect?
The complex will be a three storey building:
– Ground Floor – this floor would house the CJS Supermarket, and a liquor store.
– Level One – Customers can expect four food courts in this level, along with coffee shop space and a children’s amusement centre.
– Level Two – This level will be dedicated to office spaces.

Mr Kirpal has said the floor will have the maximum capacity of 15 office spaces.

The complex would also provide customers with an underground parking space, which Mr Kirpal said would be more space efficient and convenient to their customers.

About CJS Group
The Group is a local enterprise which is headquartered in Vatuwaqa, Suva.

It was established by Charan Jeath Singh and his wife, Dr Swaran Singh, in Labasa in the late 1980s.

According to the Group website, companies that form the CJS

Group include:
– Gurbachan’s Foodtown Pte Ltd,
–  Gosal Distributors Pte Ltd,
– Orange Coast Investments Pte Ltd,
– Charan Katonivere Holdings Pte Ltd,
– Crazytwinz (Labasa) Pte Ltd,
– Leeza Investments Pte Ltd,
– Gurbachan Singh and Co Pte Ltd,
– Twinzyrocks Pte Ltd,
– The Friendly North Inn.

Demolishing of old building for construction of the Charan Katonivere Holdings Ltd Complex in Nakasi. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 20/4/2021

VBHoldings Ltd Invests In $3M Suva Landmark

Bidesi & Sons Building, Waimanu Rd, Suva.

VB Holdings Ltd (VBH), a company listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX), has acquired a Suva landmark, known as the Bidesi & Sons Building on Waimanu Rd, Suva.

VBH is an asset management company that manages only two classes of assets, property and fleet assets.

This investment of $3,000,000VIP for the Bidesi & Sons Building fulfils an important stated objective for the company to increase its property portfolio.

At the time of listing in 2001, the company only managed property assets and introduced a new line of business for Fiji with fleet management services, and has over the last 20 years invested substantially in fleet assets.

The board had declared its desire to increase its property asset portfolio a few years back and has been on the look-out for a commercial property that met its criteria, with potential for further development in the near future.

About Bidesi & Sons
Bidesi & Sons was a famous and well regarded construction company in Suva, which has contributed to the Suva landscape and constructed many residential and commercial buildings in the City.

The Bidesi family owned a large property portfolio throughout Suva and have recently relinquished some of their properties.

VB Holdings Ltd and Bidesi & Sons were pioneer businesses on Waimanu Rd, which gained prominence from the 1940s and it was only fitting, that VBH succeeded in acquiring this property, once it became available for sale.

This additional investment will increase VB Holdings Ltd’s property portfolio to approximately $10 million of assets under management, while total assets including fleet will exceed $20m.

The current fleet assets are 62 per cent of portfolio while property assets are 38 per cent.

With this acquisition the ratio between fleet and property assets will be approximately 50/50.

VB Holdings Ltd will not be required to obtain debt or equity financing as it has sufficient cash reserves to fund the acquisition.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 16/04/2021

Fiji reviews national housing policy; certified home plan to be provided free

Homes that were destroyed by TC Yasa in Galoa, Bua. Picture: FT FILE

The Fijian Government – through the Ministry of Housing – is reviewing its national housing policy to ensure citizens build a home that meets the minimum structural standards to withstand strong cyclones.

During a virtual webinar consultation organised by the Asian Development Bank, Minister for Housing Premila Kumar attributed the review of the policy to the frequent occurrence of natural disasters that had had a major impact on our housing sector.

“The frequent and increasing occurrence of natural disasters had a major impact on the housing sector, especially those living in the rural and maritime areas as well as informal settlements,” Mrs Kumar said in a Government statement.

She said in most cases, weak house structures built using timber, tin and other materials did not meet the minimum structural standards to withstand even the weakest tropical cyclone.

“Recognising this, the Fijian Government is currently reviewing its National Housing Policy. The intention is to introduce long term, resilient housing solutions to all Fijians.”

Mrs Kumar said to assist Fijians, a category four engineer certified plan had been designed and would be provided to maritime dwellers at no cost.

“This new design has a ‘core house’ which includes a concrete structure with living room, kitchen and sanitation facilities.

“In case of an emergency, the living room can be easily converted to a sleeping area and this can be a ‘safe house’ for the family.

“The second component is a timber structure extension, with two bedrooms separating the core house by a covered breezeway.”

Designs can be downloaded online and endorsed by municipal councils, and councils will also supervise the construction and ensure all compliance is met.

Credit: The Fiji Times

Date: 15/4/2021

Rabih Yazbek Appointed ANZ Country Head, Fiji

ANZ today announced the appointment of Rabih Yazbek as Country Head, Fiji.

ANZ today announced the appointment of Rabih Yazbek as Country Head, Fiji, subject to regulatory approvals.

Mr Yazbek’s banking career spans more than 20 years, bringing a wealth of experience across customer segments, products and international markets.

ANZ Regional Executive Pacific, Tessa Price, said: “Fiji is truly the hub of the Pacific and it plays a critical role in the success of the region.

“As Fiji and the rest of the Pacific rebuild post-Covid-19, I am confident Rabih is the right person to help us identify new opportunities for customers, manage the risks and celebrate the wins along the way.”

“I want to sincerely thank our outgoing Country Head, Saud Minam, for his significant contribution to our customers, community and our team. His passion for accelerating the
digital economy has helped make banking in Fiji more accessible than ever.”

Mr Yazbek and his family will be based in Suva, subject to travel and regulatory approval.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 13/4/2021

Kina Bank Outlines Exciting Plans For Fiji, PNG Customer

Vision City Branch, Kina Bank, Papua New Guinea.

Kina Bank says its bold ambition is to create the bank of the future for the Pacific.

The proposed acquisition of Westpac’s Pacific businesses will promote a stronger, publicly listed regional bank enabling Kina to focus on greater customer service and lower the cost of banking for everyone in Fiji and PNG.

Kina Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Greg Pawson said: “We will be able to drive innovation and introduce more choice.

“With the proposed acquisition, we will be able to introduce fee free banking options; a new suite of world class digital products and services; and we will be able to re-price business lending, making it more cost-effective for business customers to access funding.

“We will also be able to make significant investment in the branch network, technology and systems.”

In a statement, Mr Pawson explained that Kina’s strategy is to create an independent brand-new bank, to operate separately from Kina Bank.

“The newly branded bank will have a new name and be separate from Kina Bank operations – and it will be governed by independent, local boards of directors in both Fiji and in Papua New Guinea (PNG).”

Competition
Mr Pawson explained that the newly branded bank would compete directly and vigorously with BSP, ANZ and Kina Bank.

“It’s a really positive story and it will be a great outcome for customers from a service and product perspective. Creating a brand-new bank means there will be more customer choice, more competition and more innovation.”

As part of the sale agreement, Kina Bank has committed to jobs for all local employees across the Pacific, and to maintaining the current Westpac network as it currently stands with no reduction in branches, ATMs or Instores.

“In fact, we will have greater capability to expand the branch and Instore network even further, providing more access for harder to reach communities,” said Mr Pawson.

“It means there will be no disruption to customers.

“No significant changes to systems or processes or the way customers go about doing their business – most importantly there will be no change to the local banking staff that customers know and trust. Only the name above the door changes.”

Mr Pawson also added that there will be significant opportunity for anyone to invest and participate in the ownership of the business through Kina Securities Limited.

“The proposed acquisition of Westpac’s Pacific businesses will also pave the way for local investors. Anyone can buy shares in the newly branded bank through Kina Securities Limited.

“It means investors can become part of an ASX/PNGX listed company and it’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to be part of Kina’s growth and success,” he said.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 13/4/2021

Investment Fiji targets export markets

Investment Fiji is now focusing on specific countries to explore potential trade and investment markets that will assist in economic recovery.

Investment Fiji Chief Executive Craig Strong says following the Fiji 50 Global Trade Expo success, they are now becoming country-specific.

Strong says they will be expanding their focus to other international markets throughout the year.

“Last Monday we gathered a cross-section of the industry from Fiji which involved everyone that is in the ecosystem and the economy to help us provide input into our strategic plan so that collectively as an economic group we understand which sectors that investment Fiji needs to focus on to grow the economy.”

He says they have had investment webinars focusing on Agriculture, manufacturing and the pharmaceutical sector to showcase Fiji as a potential investment destination.

Strong adds they are receiving a positive response with some of their initiatives and this is indicated by some exporters and traders keen to trade with Fiji.

Credit: FBC

Date: 9/04/2021

TLTB joins FICAC to launch anti-bribery campaign

[SOURCE: TLTB ]

The iTaukei Land Trust Board has a zero-tolerance against corrupt activities.

The Board is the latest organization to join hands with the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption in a nationwide campaign against bribery.

Chief Executive, Tevita Kuruvakadua says it is important to create awareness within TLTB so that all its Management and staff are reminded to be champions and advocates against bribery and other corruptive activities.

He says it is important that their staff are focused and engaged in effective land management services to meet the expectation of all their stakeholders.

Kuruvakadua says through this campaign they will be able to improve service delivery with efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Credit: FBC

Date: 7/4/2021

Some Light At The End Of The Tunnel For Fiji: ANZ Report

ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam and Tourim Projections.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel.

This was highlighted in the ANZ Research Pacific Economic Outlook Fiji report, co-authored by ANZ’s International Economist Kishti Sen and Senior International Economist Tom Kenny.

The report was released yesterday.

The report said: “We are optimistic that some tourism can return from late this year before it once again becomes a key driver of growth from 2022.

“We are also hopeful that the non-tourism economy would continue to support GDP and employment this year.”

The non-tourism economy, the co-authors said, was driven by strong remittances, support from construction and agriculture as well as Government spending, held up fairly well last year.

“Without a step-up in non-tourism industry sectors, the economic contraction and unemployment would have been far worse.

“We are forecasting GDP to increase by 4.9 per cent this year, before lifting by 15.4 per cent in 2022.”

ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam said: “One year into COVID-19 and there seems to be no sign of this going away soon.

“We need to applaud the Government of Fiji, Ministry of Health and frontline essential workers in keeping our country safe from health issues.”

“However to bring back the economic activities it is important that we all play our part and get registered for the vaccination.”

“The only way out from this economic downturn is to open up our borders and welcome back our tourists.”

“I am happy to see reports covering some very important topics such as mental health, please help each other and look after each other in times of needs.”

ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam.

Tourism Could Return From Late 2021…
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), drawing on lessons from the historical impact of infectious diseases on tourism flows, says that it is reasonable to assume that ascending back to pre-pandemic tourism levels will take a number of years and remain subject to greater uncertainty and setbacks.

“We think international tourism to Fiji could start in H2 2021 and build momentum into 2022.”

“Optimism is rising on the back of good news on vaccine development and deployment.”

“Fiji has a relatively small population of about 660k adults and herd immunity can be achieved earlier than in Asia’s more populous tourism-dependent economies.”

“The global vaccine sharing scheme, COVAX, is slow and small, but both Australia and New Zealand have said they will help the Pacific secure vaccines.”

“The report stated the Fijian government is also liaising with other bilateral partners and serum manufacturers to get the vaccines as early as possible.”

Just this week, India donated 100k doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines to Fiji, with another 90k doses expected to arrive within weeks.

“In addition, and as discussed in Box 1, Fiji has not had any community transmission of the virus for 350 consecutive days.”

“So the concept of a travel bubble, where quarantine-free travel between countries or regions with low or no incidence of COVID-19, could be implemented before herd immunity is achieved.

“And finally, Fiji’s main markets, Australia and New Zealand, have begun their vaccination programmes.”

“Naturally, if a safe travel corridor can be implemented, then tourism could return sooner, which would be a welcome economic boost.”

…Building Momentum Into 2022
The Fijian Government has introduced various measures to make Fiji’s tourism sector more competitive.

These include elimination of the service turnover tax, a 50 per cent reduction in departure tax to $100, reducing the environment and climate adaption levy from 10 per cent to 5 per cent and several thousand promotional vouchers for in-country spend by leisure travelers once the borders reopen.

“We believe there is pent up demand for overseas holidays when the borders open again.”

“Google searches for flights in Australia quickly went up as soon as there was an announcement for open domestic borders.”

“People do want to get on a plane for holidays.”

“There is also potential to draw more visitors to Fiji from Australia’s more popular overseas holiday destinations such as, Indonesia (1.4m trips in 2019), Vietnam (317k), Thailand (543k) and Malaysia (273k).”

“These are long haul flights from Australia’s east cost (where the majority of the population reside), and several of the more populous Asian destinations are not expected to reach herd immunity until late next year.”

“Fiji received 367k visitors from Australia, 206k from New Zealand, 97k from US and 17k from the UK in 2019.”

Non-tourism Economy To Support Economic Recovery
Fiji’s non-tourism economy — made up of retail and wholesale trade, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and the information, communication and telecommunication industry — performed reasonably well in the second half of 2020, according to our survey of the nation’s private business activity over the December quarter.

The report said demand for these (largely) service providers actually improved, with fewer firms reporting a deterioration in sales or profitability in the second half of the year.

“Several factors helped prevent a deeper downturn: government income support payments, early access to superannuation savings, record money transfers from abroad, financial help for small and medium enterprises and a pivot to construction projects, in particular a boost to first home owner grants.

“In a positive sign for future conditions, fewer businesses in the non-tourism economy reported a pessimistic view of the next 12 months, and sentiment around employment and investment improved, no doubt buoyed by vaccine developments.

“Further, steps towards digitalisation of business registration process, bringing tax registrations online and plans to digitalise the building permits process is helping improve business sentiment and investment intentions.

“The construction sector is also expected to do well, driven by building construction, both new dwellings and non-dwelling buildings.

“Despite a tough operating environment in 2020, the value of building permits issued rivalled that of more normal years.”

Fast-tracked and streamlined approval process for obtaining a construction permit for commercial and industrial buildings through the Building Permits Evaluation Committee appears to be supportive of new developments.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 7/4/2021