The war of words on what is being done regarding the rising cost of living and salary or wage increases continues between the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.
Professor Prasad says obviously Chaudhry can blow his own trumpet about his involvement in the military government after the coup in 2006.
He says Chaudhry should also go and study their manifesto in the 2022 election before lying about the promises they made.
Professor Prasad says he wants to reiterate his earlier point that Chaudhry is welcome to make his submission to the Fiscal Review Committee and attend the Economic Summit to present his ideas.
The Deputy Prime Minister says Chaudhry has obviously and conveniently refused to acknowledge the first act of the coalition government in supporting the students in getting back to school.
He says they have provided support to more then 200,000 students and this has been appreciated by people and parents throughout the country.
Professor Prasad says they have also extended the bus far subsidy.
However Chaudhry says people are suffering, and they want immediate relief from constantly rising price of food, household items, fuel, building materials – almost everything.
He says they want to know what the Finance Minister intends to do to address escalating prices.
The FLP Leader says instead all they have heard from Professor Prasad is that “tax increases are inevitable”.
Chaudhry says their own feedback from the people is that the Minister does not seem to have answers to the economic problems confronting the nation.
He says Professor Prasad’s actions and statements so far have veered widely off the promises he made to the people in his election campaign all over the country.
Chaudhry says Professor Prasad has conveniently avoided making a clear statement on his promises to increase civil service pay, the basic minimum wage, guaranteed minimum cane price and welfare allowances.
He says instead, there is talk now of striking families off the welfare list.
Chaudhry says 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.
Chaudhry says what we are witnessing now is a classic case of Nero fiddling (with committees and summits) while Rome burns.
He says the suffering masses are least concerned about the Minister’s Economic Summit or the fiscal review process.
Chaudhry says Professor Prasad has taken a dig at the time he was Finance Minister in 2007 and 2008 under the Bainimarama government.
The FLP Leader says he produced a completely revised budget within a couple months of taking office in January 2007 and had stabilised government finances before he left in August 2008. Chaudhry says he also delivered three budgets in his political career – Budgets 2000, 2007 (revised) and 2008.
He says 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.
Chaudhry says 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.
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