Unfortunately, the grim prospects facing us in the New Year will bring no joy to the hearts of our people. From all corners – political, economic and social- the tidings are depressing and frustrating, to say the least.
Fiji’s economy is headed for another period of contraction. The destruction wreaked by Cyclone Mick two weeks ago, not to mention the continuing long dry spell, has seriously hampered ‘the modest recovery’ that some optimists had predicted.
The sugar industry is poised for another year of further decline following its abysmal performance in 2009. There may be some reprieve for the tourism sector following an increase in the number of airlines flying into Fiji. But again, not much is likely to be gained from this because of the heavily discounted fares and hotel room rates on offer to attract visitors to our shores amidst stiff rivalry from other destinations.
Of considerable concern is the future of our national airline Air Pacific, as it struggles to survive and remain afloat in the face of gruelling competition from better equipped and larger foreign owned carriers now operating through Fiji.
Political instability here and our isolation from the international community because of the intransigence of the military regime, will continue to act as a deterrent to investment.
Employment will remain an unfulfilled dream for the hundreds of our young men and women graduating from tertiary institutions. Social distress and poverty, already at record levels according to official statistics, will likely aggravate further on account of a contracting economy.
There does not seem much hope for meaningful political dialogue with the kind of pliant, non-inclusive national dialogue forum being set up by the regime. Its composition and deliberations are unlikely to be recognised by the international community as credible or representative of the will of the people of Fiji
All in all, 2010 is fraught with uncertainties and challenges for all sections of our community. The hardest hit, though, will be the already poor who will be joined in good numbers by others vulnerable to the ill effects of a contracting economy.
Despite the bleak outlook, FLP wishes everyone a rewarding New Year.