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Chaudhry cautions Biman against tax increases

Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has expressed serious concerns at the warning from Finance Minister Biman Prasad that tax increases are “inevitable”.

“This is quite disturbing. Any increase in taxes, more so an increase in VAT and Customs Duty, will hit hard the lower to middle income families as it will push up prices.

“As things stand, the poor and low income families simply do not have the capacity to sustain any further increases in the cost of living,” Mr Chaudhry said.

The Minister’s warning on tax increases came as he announced the setting up of a 14-member Fiscal Review Committee (FRC): “It is inevitable that there will be increases in taxation,” he said.

FRC is tasked to examine the overall setting of government’s fiscal policy and make recommendations how to rebalance government revenue and expenditure, grow the economy and ensure the government is fiscally sustainable over the next decade.

Mr Chaudhry was also critical of the composition of the committee.

“It is regrettable that the membership of the FRC is mostly drawn from the well off in the community. I don’t see the workers or the farming community - the very people who are most vulnerable to Fiji’s economic and social woes - being fairly represented,” he said.

The Minister says taxes have to be increased so we can reduce our debt levels and “find billions of dollars to invest in health, water, road, climate adaptation, energy and housing”.

“This could mean substantial increases in both tax and non tax revenues,” Mr Chaudhry warned.


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