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The Bainimarama Development Bank (7 April 2018)

07/04/2018

The Bainimarama Development Bank (7 April 2018)

Fiji has long had a financing institution called the “Fiji Development Bank” (FDB).

It has been fundamentally different from the normal commercial banks whose primary motive is profits.

The FDB has been supposed to finance “development” through “development loans” which the commercial banks will not touch either because they are not profitable enough or too risky.

The FDB, however, has been encouraged to make such loans, especially to local entrepreneurs.

The usual process

Of course, over the years, there have been FDB loans made because of political pressures or nepotism or outright corruption.

Many loans have been written off, often after the borrowers have siphoned off some of the money.

Sadly, the Fiji public have never seen any solid reports on reviews of the FDB operations over the years and whether taxpayers guarantees have been justified.

But the normal best practice procedure has been for loan applicants to make out a solid case for their loan requests, which are then objectively and rigorously assessed by FDB staff, with loans granted often after the borrower provides adequate “collateral” which is their personal assets which the FDB can seize should the borrower not repay the loan.

The size of the individual loans are of course quite different, depending on the ventures being financed, ranging from a few thousands to a few millions.

There are loans officers who are professionally responsible for the loan decisions, and often the FDB Board itself has to approve loans which are large enough.

Such loans are totally different from the “small and micro business” grants being made by the Bainimarama Government.

The Bainimarama Development Bank

Just prior to the 2014 Elections and recently, some Bainimarama Government Ministers have been handing out “development grants” in the form of one thousand dollar cheques, to thousands of Fijians all over the country.

Involved in these acts of generosity using taxpayers’ money have been Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Minister Aiyaz Khaiyum and Minister Faiyaz Koya.

These grants are supposedly to assist small and medium micro enterprises who are supposed to have received these grants after making “business applications”.

How amazing?

These grants raise far more questions than any answers.

The Questions

Why are Government Ministers involved in giving out these grants and not FDB staff?

Are the FDB not doing their job?

Why are they grants and not loans?

Why are the grants exactly the same in dollar value?

Has there been any analysis of the eventual outcome of these grants (apart from some supermarkets running out of beer that evening)?

Who are the “grant officers” responsible for approving the grants?

Is anyone held responsible if the grants are not used for the objectives claimed in the grant applications?

Grants and votes of equal value

Before the 2014 Elections, there was massive propaganda about how every vote was of equal value.

The public of course can forget the thousands of votes effectively nullified because their parties or candidates could not muster 27,000 votes, while Fiji First Party candidates became ministers with a mere 800 votes.

But it all makes sense.

One thousand dollar grants, all of equal value, handed out by political ministers who as candidates in the future elections, can expect in return votes of equal value.

How dare anyone suggest that this is crude but simple “vote buying”, which in a developed country would be totally ridiculed by the media journalists and banned.

But all possible in Fiji.

Expect more of the same for the 2018 Elections, and especially the goodies promised in the next budget in a couple of months time.

The “Bainimarama Development Bank” is not about developing Fiji, but developing the future of Bainimarama and his Merry Men and Women, some of whom got to Parliament by similarly handing out Chinese sewing machines.

Except that while there is a limited supply of Chinese sewing machines (and parts), there is no limit to the taxpayers funds that the Bainimarama Government can seize by law, and give out, quite legally.

What about the Public Debt, some critics are squealing about?

Forget it- that’s for the future generations.

When the Public Debt become due, the Merry  Men and Women will be long gone, out of sight, and probably, out of the country.

 

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