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--- Overall labour market conditions in Fiji have worsened with further announcements of layoffs.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji in its May review says the notable uptake of the Fiji National Provident Fund’s COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme corroborates an increase in unemployment.
As at 27 May, 88, 939 COVID-19 Withdrawal applications have been lodged with the FNPF.
Governor Ariff Ali says these applicants are mainly from tourism and taxi and small and micro enterprises sectors that have experienced reduced hours, lowered income or have been laid-off temporarily or permanently.
Ali also states that domestic credit growth slowed by 4.2 percent with reduced lending to businesses and private individuals.
In the same period, commercial banks new lending and deposit rates also fell annually.
As at 28May, excess liquidity stood at $807.8 million (US$363.6 million.
Meanwhile, Fiji's Minister for Local Government Premila Kumar says that it is becoming clear that we must prepare for a very different picture for the remainder of 2020.
She said with COVID-19 taking a devastating toll on the global economy, Fijian businesses were already feeling the impacts.
She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had had an adverse effect on Fijian businesses, with some already being forced to close subsequent to the ongoing economic fallout.
“Physical checks were made by the councils in their respective municipalities to comprehend the nature and number of businesses in the Central Business District (CBD) area that were closed down due to the pandemic. The on-the-ground survey carried out by municipal councils showed that the economic impact of COVID-19 is evident throughout our municipalities,” Kumar said.
She said a total of 25 businesses in Suva, 14 businesses in Nausori, 16 businesses in Labasa, seven businesses in Lautoka and four businesses in Nadi had closed down because of the impact of COVID-19 to date.
“I must emphasise that this was simply checking the shops, whether the shops were empty, fit-outs were taken off and we found that those shops were closed.
“A more detailed study is being undertaken by municipal councils by looking at the business licences they have issued. The councils’ damage assessment showed that most of the businesses closed are restaurants and liquor shops.
“This is simply because most of those businesses relied on the disposable income of Fijians and, of course, the tourism industry which is in a coma due to the COVID-19 crisis,” She said.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
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