By Rasiklal Jogia, Executive Secretary/Treasurer
Although Banks have been operating in Fiji for over a century - from the days when Levuka was Fiji's Capital, the Association of Banks in Fiji ("ABIF") was formed in 1968 to fulfill a need for the banking industry to have a collective voice at a national level on matters relating to the country's banking system in particular and the financial sector generally.
Following Fiji's Independence in 1970 notably, the ABIF's role and activities began seeing a gradual increase as more Banks, both foreign and locally owned, joined the industry.
The Association's membership comprises of all licensed commercial Banks operating in Fiji under the Banking Act. In this context therefore, the ABIF is recognised as the representative body for the nation's banking industry, promoting and protecting the interests of its member-Banks. It considers and makes known the views of its member-Banks on legislative, economic, fiscal, monetary or other matters of national importance.
Since its inception the Association has taken on many functions and responsibilities on behalf of its membership and continues to play a proactive role in enhancing Fiji's banking industry's effectiveness and acceptance by the community and government. It ensures that the industry's views are communicated when government determines policies or legislations and encourages an environment that promotes growth in the banking industry and the wider economy.
With active participation and involvement of its member banks, the ABIF ventures to foster an environment in which financial services are valued and can prosper, and ensures that the banking system continues to deliver the benefits of competition to Fiji's banking fraternity. If needs arise the Association also develops, maintains and improves organisation and procedural functions designed to enhance the efficiency of the banking system in the public interest. of course without prejudice to the individual competitiveness of member-Banks.
The ABIF plays an advocate for the banking industry when dealing with Government Ministries, other peak representative bodies and associations, media and public. With regard to specific functional areas the Association facilitates among its member-Banks the implementation of Monetary and Banking Policy as determined by the Reserve Bank of Fiji ("RBF") from time to time. Meetings between the RBF and ABIF are convened at regular, quarterly intervals to facilitate constructive dialogue so as to ensure that mechanisms to promote sound corporate governance practices for Banks are continually in place. Guidelines on specific issues relative to the industry are addressed through a joint RBF/ABIF taskforce.
ABIF member-Banks are good law abiding corporate entities with responsibilities to owners or shareholders to earn an appropriate rate of return for the level of their investment. Full disclosures of their operations are provided annually for public scrutiny. This information can also be viewed in this Website.
On the Industrial Relations front ABIF member-Banks foster harmonious relations with Unions and employee organisations whose members are engaged in the banking industry. As a body, the Association provides whatever assistance is needed in negotiations with trade unions and employee organisations and in proceedings of relevant industrial courts and tribunals in the determination of employment conditions covered by Industrial Agreements and Awards in existence. Although not directly involved in industrial relations the association wherever possible ensures that its member-Banks are adequately and properly equipped in negotiations and proceedings of relevant industrial courts and tribunals in the determination of employment conditions, and facilitates the dissemination of pertinent information relevant to employment and the Banking Industry in general. And if called upon, the ABIF mediates at various levels in the settlement of industrial matters and disputes.
Overall, the Association has made substantial contribution in the enhancement of Fiji's financial sector and has contributed significantly towards moves to provide for a strong, trusted and competitive banking system that is essential for economic growth and development.
Fiji's banking system has a good reputation and the progress and advancement ABIF member-Banks have made here over time has been tremendous. It has also assisted them in their endeavours to keep up with ever advancing global technology and delivery channels, products, initiatives and world bets practice. It is ABIF's mission to promote it's member-Banks prime objective for providing Fiji with world class banking services with sophistication and professionalism.
The ABIF’s objective is to promote its membership’s efforts to operate with increasing effectiveness and efficiency. The strong management of systematic and reputation risk is and will remain pivotal to the health and advancement of Fiji’s financial system, and ABIF supports its member-Banks in their continued efforts to play their part in advancing Fiji’s standing internationally.
The Association of Banks in Fiji has in the past, and will continue to welcome constructive ideas that could further improve the industry’s performance.