Industry and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya stresses that the handing over of the $1,000 micro and small business grants is not a vote buying exercise.
Koya highlighted this point after opposition MP Viliame Gavoka asked if there are other options being considered by the government to handle the small business scheme, given that processing the grants creates a huge amount of unnecessary work for Fiji Development Bank.
Koya says due to FDB’s reach, with the centres located nationwide including the rural areas, it was considered the most appropriate partner.
He says FDB is clearly delivering on it’s mandate by facilitating the promotion and development of enterprises in Fiji.
Koya says in their analysis of the enterprises assisted so far which now total 7,171 - 5,041 enterprises are rural based and 4,634 projects assisted are in the agricultural sector.
The Minister says they have also created a very useful database on the micro and small enterprises. He says FDB now has detailed information on more than 44,660 potential clients. Of this number, 19,532 are currently being assisted under the small business grant scheme.
Opposition MP, Niko Nawaikula then raised the issue that his supporters were getting the business grant assistance however he asked whether the money would be better used in rebuilding homes after Cyclone Winston.
Koya says Nawaikula needs to go to an economist, do some research and see the recovery rate after the cyclone.
Nawaikula said that he would like to point out that there is only one house in the village of Delaikoro. He says he does not agree with Koya.
Meanwhile Koya says they have also stated that not all enterprises will be successful after the opposition raised the issue that the success rate of the program is not good.
Opposition MP Semesa Karavaki then asked Koya to agree that this is a vote buying exercise.
Koya says this is not the case and it is not like previous governments where ministers were giving out free boats.