Work by the Commonwealth Secretariat to support Fiji’s Reserve Bank in digitising its paper-based certificates of securities, such as government bonds, will benefit investors, making it easier for them to own, safekeep and trade in the country’s financial market, valued at about US$6 billion.
In a recent letter, the Bank’s Governor Ariff Ali expressed his appreciation to the Commonwealth Secretariat for its assistance throughout this process, adding that the digital transition “was a significant achievement for Fiji” which also fulfils a requirement for the listing of the country’s Sovereign Green Bond on the London Stock Exchange.
Under this transition, the Reserve Bank launched its new Central Securities Depository on 30 November 2022 to digitise the country’s physical certificates of securities. The online depository offers secure processes to issuers, investors and brokers to transfer, settle and track their balances, while administrating automated interest payments, principal repayments and ownership registries.
In his letter, Governor Ariff Ali stated that the implementation of the depository was linked to the recommendation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s mission reports in 2016 and 2018.
He continued: “In this regard, the Reserve Bank of Fiji takes this opportunity to thank the Commonwealth Secretariat, especially Dr Ruth Kattumuri and Sanjay Kumar for their invaluable contributions in laying the foundation for this project and their guidance from its inception phase… We hope there will be an opportunity to collaborate in the future.”
Responding to the governor’s letter, Dr Ruth Kattumuri, Senior Director of the Secretariat’s Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development Directorate, said:
“We commend Fiji for taking comprehensive measures to modernise its financial market infrastructure, particularly through the launch of its new Central Securities Depository, for which we were very happy to provide relevant assistance and will continue to support Fiji in its plans.
“This new depository will make banking transactions much more efficient, secure and reliable, which, we hope, will provide efficient processes for enhancing investments in Fiji and will allow the government to promote financial inclusion.”
The technical assistance on the depository, Dr Ruth added, is part of the support which the Secretariat’s Debt Management Adviser Sanjay Kumar has been providing Fiji on bond market development and public debt management.
Speaking about the digital transition, Sanjay Kumar said: “The new depository, along with the country’s newly upgraded Real Time Gross Settlement System, will also allow Fiji to embark on key reforms in areas, such as bond market development, public debt management and monetary policy implementation, to ultimately develop its financial sector for higher economic growth.”
The creation of the Central Securities Depository is a joint effort led by Fiji’s Reserve Bank and Ministry of Economy, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and other development partners.