Biman Prasad’s biased and jaundiced attacks on Mahendra Chaudhry as Finance Minister, totally unsubstantiated by facts or statistics, is a disgrace to the high academic office he holds as professor in economics at the University of the South Pacific.
“Financial and economic statistics during the 18 months of Mr Chaudhry’s tenure as Finance Minister, are sufficient to prove how blindly dishonest Professor Biman Prasad is as an economic analyst,” FLP’s assistant Secretary General Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi said.
Professor Prasad blames Mr Chaudhry’s policies “for Fiji’s economic state and quickly declining Foreign Reserves”.
Yet Reserve Bank figures show that when Mr Chaudhry left in August 2008, Fiji’s Foreign Reserves stood at $910 million worth 3.5 months of imports, and that at a time when oil prices were at a record peak, putting extreme pressure on our Foreign Reserves. He left a surplus of $40 million in government coffers.
Liquidity in the banking system was flush, interests rates were low, investment levels were rising and exports were up 33% compared to 2006.
The national debt level had been brought down to 49% of GDP from a high of 53% under the Qarase Government.
International financial institutions had commended Mr Chaudhry for his fiscal, monetary and financial policies outlined in Budget 2007 and 2008.
Within six months of his leaving, the situation deteriorated markedly to a point where our Foreign Reserves are down to $767m, liquidity is tight, interest rates are rising, the business sector is in deep recession, exports are declining and tourism is facing a severe downturn.
“How does Professor Biman Prasad blame Mr Chaudhry for a situation that developed after he left? By making unsubstantiated sweeping statements, tinged with his political prejudices, Biman is undermining his own credibility as an economic analyst.
“As a highly-placed academic Mr Prasad should not allow his prejudices no doubt rooted in his political defeat at the hands of the Fiji Labour Party a number of times, to taint his professional integrity,” Mr Vayeshnoi said.