A-G: Fiji to Chair top ADB regional meeting
‘The devastation we suffered demonstrates absolute need for future investments in infrastructure to be climate resilient’
Fiji has outlined its needs and priorities in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston at a meeting between the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and the president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Takehiko Nakao. The A-G gave Mr Nakao a detailed briefing on the Winston recovery and rebuilding efforts when the two men held talks during the 49th ADB annual meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. He highlighted three areas that the Government was targeting to assist the Fijian people - the restoration of electricity and water, the repair and rebuilding of homes that had been damaged or destroyed and the reconstruction of schools, health centres and other public infrastructure. He made special mention of the Government’s “Help for Homes” initiative and the “Adopt a School” programme as practical measures designed to help the Fijian people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. The A-G said the overriding lesson from Winston was that Fiji and other small and vulnerable states needed to be much better prepared for the extreme weather events and rising sea levels associated with climate change. “The devastation we suffered from Cyclone Winston demonstrates the absolute need for any future investment in infrastructure to be climate resilient,” he said.
In their discussion about the vulnerability assessment by the ADB of Pacific Island Countries (‘PICs’), the A-G stressed the extreme vulnerability of the PICs to climate change.
“We are all relatively small with narrow economic bases. And we are confronting an era in which a single climatic event can decimate our entire economies and wind back our hard won development gains for decades,” he said. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it was imperative for Fiji and other small and vulnerable nations to be able to gain easier and more equitable access to finance to enable them to build climate resilience and future proof their economies. For his part, the ADB president conveyed his condolences to the Fijian people for the 44 lives lost during Cyclone Winston and the trail of devastation in affected com- munities. During the talks, the A-G also highlighted initiatives that the Government was undertaking to enhance the development of the financial sector, particularly the domestic securities market in Fiji. The A-G said that with a well-regulated and transparent sector, Fiji was well-placed to be the hub of the Pacific for financial market-related transactions. The A-G requested ADB assistance to further develop the small and micro enterprise sector, which he said was a key priority of the Fijian Government. He said a flourishing small and micro enterprise sector would not only ensure sustained incomes for those directly involved and promote job creation and security but would also generate wider economic prosperity and growth.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with the ADB president Takehiko Nakao.