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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Decline of 30% in rental prices: Khan

PROPERTY AND LAND PRICES HAVE DECLINED BY UP TO 20 PERCENT OVER THE PAST FIVE MONTHS. [FILE PHOTO]

Property and land prices have declined by up to 20 percent over the past five months.

Bayshore Real Estate Director Arif Khan says this is more prevalent in the West as Nadi is badly affected by the decline in tourism activities.

Khan says there’s also been a decline of 30 percent in rent prices with more vacant properties available in the market now.

“The demand for rental has decreased and the inventory has increased. Consequently, that has led to a decline to anywhere from 20 to 30 percent.”

The latest surveillance by the real estate agent also shows that lesser people are showing interest in investing in properties.

Credit: FBC

Date: 25/9/2020

Liquidity reaches historic high: RBF

Excess liquidity in the banking system reached a historical high of $1.1 billion last month says the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

The RBF states this was driven by the increase in foreign reserves which in turn was underpinned by government external borrowing.

Governor Ariff Ali mentioned that liquidity in the banking system is envisaged to remain ample in the foreseeable future and continues to place downward pressure on market interest rates, which generally fell in August.

However, he says domestic credit contracted in the review month, driven by the decline in lending to the private sector.

The Governor says the outcome is reflective of a general tightening in lending standards amid the subdued economic environment.

Annual inflation slid further to -3.0 percent last month from -1.6 percent in July, primarily influenced by lower prices of alcoholic beverages, yaqona, food and fuel.

Credit: FBC

Date: 25/9/2020

Now is the time to invest in construction – Construction Industry Council

Construction Industry Council President Gordon Jenkins.

Construction Industry Council President Gordon Jenkins says now is the best time to construct because prices of material and labour costs are down and people should take advantage of this and get their projects completed.

Jenkins says the industry is in a state of a major slowdown right now but anticipates that it will start speeding up again in the next 6 months.

He says it is hard for the construction industry workers to get a job right now but hopes there will be opportunities in the next few months.

Jenkins has also highlighted they are not expecting any overseas investment at this time but is hoping that locals will make investments.

He believes that in this day and age, the cost of building has probably dropped and it is more efficient and there is more competition within the industry.

The Council President adds that the government has offered a lot of concessions and reasons to get into construction and if people do take advantage of this, then the construction industry will move forward.

The President says that if more people are confident in the economy, then more people will invest in the construction sector.

Credit: Fiji Village

Date: 23/9/2020

Businesses in Levuka defaulting on rates

THE MINISTRY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAS IDENTIFIED LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES IN LEVUKA THAT HAVE DEFAULTED ON THEIR RATES.[SOURCE: ERIC FORTIN]

The Ministry for Local Government has identified local and international companies in Levuka that have defaulted on their rates.

Minister Premila Kumar says the Levuka Town Council has not been invoicing them or sending demand notices and a number of these cases are now before the court.

“So the laxity is on the part of the Council. They have not been aggressive in collecting the rates owed and that is now slowly changing. There are people who have come forward and they have gone on the payment plan which we appreciate.”

In an effort to ensure ratepayers are more responsible, the Minister says there will be some amendments to the law.

The Ministry has also identified cases where Fijians have left the country without paying rates.

“There are people who have migrated abroad or they are leaving but they have not paid their rates. There are also ratepayers who have got their homes in Levuka but they are living on the main island now, they are living in Viti Levu and they are not paying their rates.”

The rate collection in Levuka is about $338,000 annually and around $150,000 remains unpaid.

Credit: FBC

Date: 22/9/2020

Building Permits For The 2nd Quarter Dropped 22.1%: New Statistics Report

Carpenters Fiji Foreshore development that is currently on hold.

The construction industry was set to kick off work valued at $54.3 million for the second quarter of 2020, the Fiji Bureau of Statistics said in its September Report.

The value of construction was however lower than the first quarter of the year, the bureau said.

According to September 11 report, 8189 building permits were issused for the period April to June.

Against the first quarter results, the number of building permits for the second quarter dropped by 22.1 per cent, while the corresponding value of works dropped by 33.6 per cent, the bureau said.

“When compared to June quarter 2019, the number of building permits issued and corresponding value of works declined by 20.3 per cent and 39.7 per cent respectively,” the Bureau of Statistics quarterly report said.

The breakdown by division of the $54.3 million associated with building permits issued, were:

– Central Divison, 74.4 per cent;

– Western Division, 21.4 per cent; and

– Northern Division, 4.2 per cent

Divisions

The total value of building permits issued for the Central Eastern division was $40.4 million.

The Western Division accounted for $11.6 million worth of building permits, while the Northern Division secured building permits valued at $2.3 million.

Breakdown by type of the $54.3 million building permits issued were:

– Private dwellings, 28 per cent

– Other alterations and miscellaneous, 3.5 per cent.

– Other buildings accounted for 68.5 per cent.

Completion certificates

The bureau said 138 completion certificates were issued in the June quarter of 2020.

Completion certificates for the same period tallied at $16.2 million, the bureau said.

The number of completion certificates issued in the second quarter of 2020, and the value of construction works associated with completion certificate, dropped by 15.9 per cent and 35.0 per cent respectively, against the first quarter.

Against corresponding figures of the last year, the number of completion certificates issued and the value of construction works associated with the completion certificates declined by 17.4 per cent and 49.9 per cent respectively.

The majority of completion certificates were from the Central Eastern Division, at 69.8 per cent, followed by the Western Division accounted for 20.4 per cent.

The Northern Division accounted for 9.8 per cent of completion certificates.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 21/9/2020

ANZ Records 60 Percent Drop In Cash-Over-Counter Transactions

ANZ country head Saud Minam

ANz has noted a drop in over the counter cash transactions, as customers move to digital payments, said country head Saud Minam.

From February to September, the bank recorded a 60 per cent drop in cash transactions, he said.

“We’re dealing wih the same number of clients though, with an unbelieveable surge in digital transactions,” he said.

A lot of people have actually moved from the cash and cheque methods of payment to digitalisation, Mr Minam said.

“It basically reflects on how businesses are doing business differently, which to us was an excellent opportunity to serve our customers better,” he said.

“Most of the banks are moving in that direction.”

Mr Minam said the bank hoped that after December 31, more businesses would be able to get back on their feet to service loan repayments.

“Most businesses have relooked their way of doing business,” he said.

“They have reformed, and started working smarter.

“It’s an encouraging sign.”

Until the border restrictions are reklaxed, the bank will continue to support its customers through the tough times ahead,” Mr Minam said.

Credit: Fiji Sun

Date: 18/9/2020

Young people encouraged to start their own business

THE THREE-DAY BUSINESS INTEGRITY FOR YOUTH ENTREPRENEURS WORKSHOP [SOURCE: FICAC]

Youth are game changers and influencers with the capability and potential to lead the new normal in this current COVID-19 era.

This was highlighted at the three-day Business Integrity for Youth Entrepreneurs Workshop hosted by the United Nations Pacific Regionals Anti-Corruption Project in Nadi.

The project which was organized by UN-PRAC, Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation and the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption encourages young people to start their own businesses in Fiji and operate with integrity.

The workshop also encourages collective action as a process of getting groups of people and companies or organizations to work together to create a fair business environment with minimal risk of corruption and a level playing field.

A recent World Economic Forum survey highlights that poor governance and corruption are still perceived by millennials as the main obstacle holding their countries back and driving their generation of social, political and economic opportunities.

FCEF Executive Officer Victoria Yee says youths are important to progress the anti-corruption agenda.

FICAC Corruption Prevention Manager Kolora Naliva also shared the same sentiments adding that one agency alone cannot fight corruption as it need the participation of civil society and the private sector.

More than 30 young entrepreneurs from fashion, music, performing arts, information technology, agriculture and many other fields were part of the three day workshop.

Credit : FBC

Date: 19/9/2020

Housing Ministry staff implicated in land sale scam

MINISTER PREMILA KUMAR [M]WHILE EXPRESSING HER DISAPPOINTMENT SAYS THEY ALSO SUSPECT MORE FORMER STAFF COULD HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE ILLEGAL ACTS.

Two staff from the Ministry of Housing are now being investigated for their involvement in recent land sale scams.

Minister Premila Kumar expressed her disappointment saying the two staff have not reported to work since the issue surfaced.

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption is now investigating the matter.

It was discovered that letters using fake letterheads were issued to the public.

These letters authorized the people to build houses in River Road, Narere, Nasinu and Millennium informal settlement in Nausori.

“There are certain letters we find that was undated and the former director of Housing his name were used. The letter was done in such a way that the first part of the letter had all the content and the second part had the signature and the signature was photocopied. So these are the issues the Ministry of Housing is trying to deal with.”

The Minister believes that other former staff may also be part of the scam and names have already been sent with FICAC.

To date, eight cases from Millennium Settlement and another three from River Road have been forwarded to FICAC.

“This is corruption. You cannot be paying money to a staff of the ministry to get a place to build your home. This is not how it works. You know as you pay your electricity bill or water bill – where do you go? Either you go the institutions or pay online because you know the account number. Then how come when it comes to a land deal you are dealing with a staff in secret places exchanging money and then pleading innocent.”

Only two families from River Road Settlement have so far confirmed paying cash while FICAC has informed the Ministry that a Justice of Peace has also been questioned for further investigation.

The Housing Ministry is urging members of the public not to give money to any individual without verifying their background and credentials, as well as demanding a receipt for any payment.

It was also clarified that the Ministry is not engaged in sale of land or issuance of leases.

These are normally done by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, iTLTB, Housing Authority and other private developers.

Credit: FBC

Date: 18/9/2020

Some people in informal settlements earn $50k & rent out houses- Kumar

Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar

The Minister for Housing, Premila Kumar says they have found people living in informal settlements who are earning more than $50,000 and some living in informal settlements have rented their property elsewhere.

She also reveals that some people have built houses in informal settlements and have rented it out.

Kumar says this was identified through research they conducted which shows there are now more problems in the informal settlements.

The Minister further says they would like to help people who are vulnerable and need homes.

Kumar says the Ministry for Housing is now reviewing the policy on lot allotment in informal settlements.

She says this will help them decide who gets a lot when they upgrade the informal settlements.

Kumar adds they will be conducting a public consultation as they want to get people’s views before it is implemented.

Credit: Fijivillage

Date: 17/9/2020

Total export of services declines

THERE WAS A DECREASE OF OVER NINETY PERCENT OR MORE THAN EIGHT HUNDRED AND TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS IN THE TOTAL EXPORT OF SERVICES IN JUNE WHEN COMPARED TO A YEAR EARLIER. [FILE PHOTO]

There was a decrease of over ninety percent or more than eight hundred and twenty million dollars in the total export of services in June when compared to a year earlier.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics highlights the decline was due to a decrease of over five hundred and twenty-five million dollars in travel services because of lower tourist arrivals.

Transportation services also recorded a decrease of two hundred and thirty-four million dollars because of a decline in air travel.

Government services suffered because of a drop in funds received from international agencies based in Fiji.

A decrease of over one hundred and seventy-two million dollars was also noted in the total imports of services.

Credit: FBC

Date: 16/9/2020