SUVA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Fiji stressed on Friday the need to improve its construction industry which has played a key role in the island nation's socio-economic development over the past years.
Speaking at the Construction Industry Council (CIC) conference in the Fijian capital of Suva on Friday, Fiji's Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that the construction sector in Fiji grew on average by 9 percent per annum from 2016 to 2018.
There were 24,300 people employed in the construction sector in 2016 while in 2011 there were 6,100 people employed, he said, adding that the construction industry has over the years experienced some unscrupulous practices, leading to a shortage of skilled workers in the island nation.
The minister urged the country's construction industry to provide some sort of incentives for its workers to avoid the loss of skilled laborers.
Fiji needs to grow its economy by implementing new standards, new way of thinking, new architectural plans and new ideas. And Fiji's 2019-2020 budget is focused on lifting the economy through enormous positive changes coming about in the next 18 months, including the incentives to stimulate investment, he said.
Fiji's Minister for Industry Trade and Tourism Premila Kumar said that construction plays a key role in socio-economic development of any country.
She said that her ministry will take the construction permit approval processes entirely online, with extensive work scheduled in the next financial year to prepare for that transition.
The online platform is to provide the entrepreneurs a better doing business environment, making processes easier and moving towards a digital platform.
In Fiji, the number of building permit applications rose to 1,725 in 2018 with a value of 370 million Fijian dollars (about 171 million U.S. dollars) and in the first three months of this year, and 273 building permit applications were recorded in the country with a value of 231 million Fijian dollars (about 106.7 million U.S. dollars).
With the theme of "Building Solutions that Work," the three-day conference will end on Saturday.