Friday, September 15, 2006
Savusavu expatriates and prices
Savusavu’s expatriate community upping prices
A friend from Labasa drove us along the coast east of Savusavu to see the developments there, numerous fine houses and some resorts. Who lives there I wondered. Apparently there are pieces of freehold land being sold on the internet and Americans and others are finding solace in the quietness of this coastal area, not only yachties. And their presence is impacting upon the prices of land and services and ordinary food. And the community want the Savusavu airport upgraded - but I like the ferry better than the little plane!
From Fiji sun Sept 15
Millionaires pose threat to the poorTown’s trade in US dollars raises prices
By IFEREIMI NADORE and CHEERIEANN WILSON
Locals in a growing tourist town are feeling the pinch of paying high prices of goods and services brought on by the influence of the American currency. Villagers are forced to pay skyrocketing prices meant for the rich who have made Savusavu their home. And the Savusavu Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to investigate the quick-buck dealings of those who, it claimed, are millionaires who have flourished the real estate markets at their own prices.
The chamber said the rich have controlled the prices in trading without taking into consideration the suffering of local villagers. Sixty per cent of freehold land is owned by Americans in Fiji’s Hidden Paradise where about 100 expatriates live full-time. “It is high time that the Government steps in and conducts an investigation on how these so-called millionaires come into the country and make a quick buck and leave the country without putting any single cent behind,” said chamber acting chairman, Elenoa Weatherall.
Mrs Weatherall said with the boom in the tourist industry and the continuous increase of prices of goods and services, locals would always be disadvantaged. “Tourists will come and go but the grassroots are feeling that insurmountable pain,” said Mrs Weatherfall. “I mean, if you want to make business in Savusavu, you have to take into consideration the needs of the locals and that is not happening here.”
Food sold in supermarkets and restaurant top the list with customers having to pay double of what they can spend in other towns and cities. She said a customer could spend close to $10 for a serve of food from a restaurant, which is 50 per cent more of what they could pay in a restaurant in Suva. Services such as the Internet are also paid for at a high price with most outlets trading at a price of $8-$10 an hour. In other urban centres, people only pay $3 for internet use, Mrs Weatherall said.
She said the prices of land offered by real estates agents was alarming and only targeted the rich. Prime residential lots are currently sold at a hefty price of $250,000 to $500,000. “I think it’s about time the Government steps in and stop the outflow of money overseas at the expense of the locals. No percentage of the sale is left behind for the locals and that is a bit unfair,” she added. Taxi driver Mahendra Reddy said he had been longing to buy a freehold lot for his grown-up children but had to shelve the plan.“The price is too high and purchasing one is only a dream,” said Mr Reddy. Mrs Weatherall called the Prices of Income Board to monitor the prices of goods in Savusavu.
Mayor Ram Pillai said he had warned his people not to sell their land. “What will happen to the locals if all the land is bought by people overseas? Savusavu is filled with freehold land but there is a limited amount now available. It now costs $300,000 for an acre. People pay the same to buy a house and land in Australia or New Zealand,” he said. “Prices of food like fish, prawns and vegetables have also gone up. We buy 80 per cent of vegetables from Labasa and Suva because people here no longer plant.” Senator Setefano Osonamoli, said in statement made in Parliament, that land sales are made by overseas agents who are not subject to our controls and are advertising on the Internet.