8 Oct 2004

High phone charges hindering business, Fiji seminar told

10:26 am on 8 October 2004

A seminar at the University of the South Pacific has been told that that high telecommunications charges and travel costs are hindering private sector development in Fiji.

The Fiji Times reports that private sector specialist Winfield Wicklein has cited these as the high costs of telephone and the Internet as well as sea and air travel.

Mr Wicklein says utility costs are high and the infrastructure is weak and unreliable, making it very costly to communicate with the outside world.

He says access to credit is also restricted because interest rate margins are very high.

As well he says, the Fiji National Provident Fund with more than US$2 billion in assets, crowds out the private sector, limits stock market expansion and generally holds back financial market development.

Mr Wicklein has recommended that company tax rate be reduced to ten per cent and tax evaders vigorously pursued.