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To Act or not to Act, NOW -that is the question?

The popular opinion out there is that the Finance Minister should just get on with the job and stop wasting time with review committees and economic summits, says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

He was responding to a statement by Finance Minister Biman Prasad made in reply to his address to the Fiji Public Service Association AGM last Saturday.

“People are suffering. They want immediate relief from constantly rising price of food, household items, fuel, building materials – almost everything. They want to know what the Minister intends to do to address escalating prices. Instead, all they have heard from him is that “tax increases are inevitable. Our own feedback from the people is that the Minister does not seem to have answers to the economic problems confronting the nation,” Mr Chaudhry said.

“His actions and statements so far have veered widely off the promises he made to the people in his election campaign all over the country. He has conveniently avoided making a clear statement on his promises to increase civil service pays, the basic minimum wage, guaranteed minimum cane price and welfare allowances. Instead, there is talk now of striking families off the welfare list. The question is simple: Are you going to deliver on your campaign promises or not? If so, when and how? That’s what the people want to know."

"What we are witnessing now is a classic case of Nero fiddling (with committees and summits) while Rome burns. The suffering masses are least concerned about the Minister’s economic summit or the fiscal review process. I re-iterate these are merely attempts to pass on the buck and delay the inevitable,” Mr Chaudhry said.

"The Minister has taken a dig at the time I was Finance Minister in 2007 and 2008 in the Bainimarama administration. Let me tell him that I produced a completely revised Budget within a couple months of taking office in January 2007 and had stabilised government finances before I left in August 2008."

“I have delivered three Budgets in my political career – Budgets 2000, 2007 (revised) and 2008. All Budgets were popular. VAT was removed from basic food items, a range of essential household items were put under Price Control and FNPF contribution was increased among other reform measures which brought down the cost of living,” said Mr Chaudhry.


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