Prasad: Political Stability Vital for Healthy Economy


6:12pm Jul 28
POLITICAL stability and certainty are vital for our economic progress, says University of the South Pacific's Professor Biman Prasad.

Prof Prasad said political stability was important for economic prosperity.

"I know what some bloggers and my critics say but that is what you have been saying for a while," he said.

"Yes we know, but the issue of political stability in my view is one of the missing links in our prosperity and one that we have to understand is the cause of a lot of economic problems.

"If there is one lesson we should now learn as we move towards the formulation of the new constitution, that is, political stability and certainty is vital for our economic progress."

Mr Prasad made the comments yesterday at the Citizens Constitutional Forum Ltd organised seminar on "Bringing Fiji together — Addressing Inclusivity in Constitution Making".

"If one were to take stock of the progress we have made in the last 25 years, there will not be much to show," he said.

"In the 1970s the average growth was 5.5 per cent, in the 1980s it was 1.9 per cent, in the 1990s it was 3 per cent, in 2000s were reduced to 0.8 per cent and in the last five it has been less than 1 per cent.

"The economy grew at 2.1 per cent in 2011 after two consecutive years of contraction.

"The Bainimarama government can be given credit for articulating the creation of inclusive economic and political institutions and that is an important transformation that could be achieved through our new constitution."

Prof Prasad said in the past five years, the government had reformed various aspects of the economic institutions which could be considered inclusive and would be beneficial in the long run.

He said these include dismantling monopolies and reforming institutions to allow for broader participation.

"The attempt by the government to address the land issue through the Land Bank is commendable and more serious thinking would require us to look at further to ensure that land ownership and tenure becomes an inclusive economic institution in Fiji."

Mr Prasad said a lot of empirical evidence shows that political instability and coups were a major cause of economic decline in many countries and Fiji was no exception.

"The new constitution must address and include provisions which create and preserve inclusive political and economic institutions," he said.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said it was apparent that Fiji's lack of political stability since 1987, even before that, had been precipitated by the lack of a fundamental State apparatus and legal framework to address issues of communality, to remove statutes that created division and statutes that disallowed national support to socio-economic and political advancements.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the non-negotiable advancements put in place by the Prime Minister addressed the co-fundamentals of political stability and economic prosperity.

He said this included a common and equal citizenry, one person one vote one value, addressing systemic corruption, having merit based appointments and promotions, removing cronyism and nepotism.

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