Investment on hold | Labour shortage affects $20m worth projects

McDonalds Fiji managing director Marc McElrath while making a submission at the National Budget consultation. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

About $20 million worth of investment has been put on hold by McDonalds Fiji because of a shortage of labour.

While making submissions at the public consultation on the National Budget, McDonalds Fiji managing director Marc McElrath said the labour shortage was affecting every sector in the country. “We are very worried,” he said.

“With construction we have probably $20m worth of investments happening at the moment.

“We’ve actually put a stop to that because at the moment we can’t get labour.

“The cost of labour is going up.

“We are happy to pay for that but in actual fact we don’t have the people.”

Mr McElrath urged the Coalition Government to consider addressing the issue in the next National Budget.

“I just hope in your budget that you can take that into consideration.

“I know there are a number of projects that are happening and are coming to fruition but in Fiji we have a major labour shortage coming.

“We are asking the Government to please look into this before it becomes a major issue.

“We are losing nurses, we are losing doctors, we are losing general labour and we are losing all of our good people.

“This is a major concern for our country maybe not now but in six months or 12 months’ time we are going to have problems.

“It is a big problem that affects all sectors but I just wanted to urge if the government could look into it.”

In response, Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad said Government was acutely aware of what was happening in the labour market.

“Some of these issues have risen because of the global restructuring of the labour market post-pandemic,” he said.

“Countries like Australia and New Zealand for two years had no work going on and then suddenly there is this huge pent up demand. The shortage of labour there is affecting the mobility of labour from here as well.

“We have a Government approved funding to ensure that we are able to train competency based labour immediately in a short period of time.”

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