The 2022/2023 National Budget was delivered on the 15th of July this year.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has today announced a number of new measures in the 2022/2023 National Budget to try to cushion the blow for the most vulnerable in the country, saying we now have a Bula Boom, and the government had borrowed prudently to ensure the country did not go into further crisis.
The Government has allocated $60 million in the 2022-2023 Budget to help mitigate the effects of rising inflationary pressures on household disposable incomes.
To help cope with rising prices, parents with a combined annual income of less than $50,000 will receive a payment of $180 per child (only for children below 18 years) over a 6 month period.
This equates to $30 per month per child, and will be paid out in two phases. For example, if an applicant has 5 children below the age of 18 years, the total payout for the 6 month period will be $900.
An online platform will be developed similar to the vaccination registration portal, through which parents can apply.
Sayed-Khaiyum says alternatively, Government may set-up registration centres for Fijians to apply in person, if the need arises.
Applications will be verified through the Birth Registration Number if the applicant and child details are correct.
All applicants currently receiving Energy Fiji Limited subsidy, Water Authority of Fiji subsidy, and students on transportation assistance will automatically qualify as they are already assessed to be earning less than $50,000 annual income. Those who do not qualify will have to go through an additional process of income verification via FRCS and FNPF, or via statutory declaration for those in the informal sector.
Successful applicants will be paid through their MPAiSA/MyCash accounts. Approximately 200,000 students will benefit from this initiative.
All existing social welfare, Government pension and AfterCare Fund recipients will receive a payment of $180 over a six month period. This will be paid out in two phases. It is expected that around 100,000 Fijians will benefit from this initiative.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says all tertiary students (regardless of whether or not they are TELS/ Toppers recipients) will receive a payout of $180 over a six month period, to be paid out in two phases. About 30,000 students are expected to benefit from this scheme.
Duty on used cars will be increased by $1,000 while the duty on new cars will be increased by 5 percent.
While announcing the 2022/2023 National Budget, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government will also introduce a luxury vehicle tax of $10,000 per vehicle for vehicles above 3,000cc.
To further promote and support the use of green technologies, they are expanding incentives to support the purchase of Electric Vehicles and charging stations.
Government had previously announced a 7 year tax deduction and a 5 percent subsidy for capital investments in charging infrastructure/stations for electric vehicles above $100,000.
The subsidy has now increased to 10 percent on investments over a lower threshold of $50,000.
VAT and fiscal duty on all electric vehicles will now be zero-rated to allow accelerated depreciation of 100 percent. Government will also provide a $5,000 subsidy per vehicle if a local business purchases 5 vehicles or more.
The current employment taxation scheme expires in 2023 and allows for a 300 percent tax deduction on first full-time employees, on wages paid for work placements in a related area of study up to 6 months in a year before graduation, and to students employed on a part-time basis.
The 10 percent reduced rate of corporate tax available to companies listed on the SPSE will only be available for 7 years. Companies that have enjoyed for 7 years or more will now pay the corporate tax at the rate of 20 percent. This will be effective from Tax Year 2023.
A 100 percent tax deduction will be available to companies on the amount of tuition and living expenses paid for student(s) at a higher education institution specified in the Higher Education Act 2008.
The deduction applicable for the purpose of living expenses is limited to $7,000 per calendar year and must be paid into a bank account held at a commercial trading bank under the name of the student.
The 150 percent tax deduction available to hotels and resorts that hire local artists such as craftsmen, dancers and musicians will be increased to 300 percent.
Sayed-Khaiyum has also revealed that the Residential Housing and Development Incentive Package will be further incentivized.
A 50 percent developer profit exemption will be available to projects with a minimum investment level of $5 million and at least 10 residential units. Customs concession (zero duty) on the importation of capital equipment, plant and machinery. There will be no condition on the sale price.
A 5-year age limit will be imposed on the importation of secondhand petrol and diesel motor vehicles.
This will be aligned to the age limit of 5 years on hybrid vehicles.
The Euro IV compliance requirement will be maintained.
A transitional period will be allowed to import vehicles older than 5 years provided that the vehicle was ordered, paid for or loaded for shipment to Fiji on or before 16th July 2022 and that the shipment arrives in Fiji on or before 31st December 2022.
The government will be phasing out duty protections for Fiji Dairy in the lead-up to the expiration between the Government and Southern Cross Foods Ltd on 31st August 2022.
Duty will be reduced from 32 percent to 5 percent after expiry of the agreement on cheese, yoghurt, and liquid and powdered milk.
The government has increased the FNPF employer and employee contributions from 6% to 7% from 1st January 2023 through 31st December 2023.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says for more than a year now, FNPF members’ accounts have received contributions at a lower rate.
This 1 percent reversal for both employers and employees should credit around $40 million to members’ accounts.
The government will eventually revert the contribution rates to a total of 18 percent (10 percent for employers and 8 percent for employees) in the coming years.
Sayed-Khaiyum says any employer who chooses to contribute in excess of the 7 percent mandatory contribution up to 10 percent, will be allowed to deduct 300 percent of the additional contribution from their taxes, and that additional income for their employees will be exempt from income tax.
Government revenue is forecast at $2.9 billion while expenditure stands at $3.8 billion for the 2022/2023 National Budget.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this will bring the Debt to GDP ratio to 85 percent.
He says the budget creates certainty.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says the economy is projected to grow by 12.4 percent this year.
He says the boom is back and it is a Bula Boom.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji is expected to surpass 500,000 visitor arrivals this year. He says cumulative revenue collection as at 30th June 2022 amounted to $1.96 billion, of which $1.5 billion was tax revenue. The Minister also says Fiji is well on track to achieving the $2.25 billion annual revenue forecast, with June tax collections exceeding the forecast by $11.6 million. He further says 92 percent of employees have returned compared to pre-COVID and most importantly, the wages paid to our people are up by $210 million –– 15 percent higher compared to this same six-month period last year. He says this is $210 million in the pockets of our taxi drivers, tourism employees, airport staff, factory workers, farmers and families.
However he says the bad news is that even though wages are rising, so are prices due to challenges Fiji didn’t cause and cannot control.
He says thanks to the recovery, the budget builds more buffers to the price-increase crisis.
Sayed-Khaiyum further says in 2 years the government lost about $2.8 billion in revenue.
He says the average cost of our overall debt portfolio as of July is 4.4 percent of almost a quarter from pre-pandemic levels.
He says that’s at least $100 million annual savings on interest payments mainly due to Government's ability to negotiate lower-cost, policy-based loans and concessional financing.
Sayed-Khaiyum says in the coming months Fiji expects $1 billion in investments in the private sector.
Foreign reserves also hit a record high of $3.62 billion equivalent to 8.4 months of imports.
He also says many developed and developing nations are facing down a recession – Fiji is not.
He says many nations are facing double-digit inflation, even as high as 80% – Fiji’s is in the single digits.
The Minister says many countries have vaccinated fewer than half of their eligible populations. He says Fiji’s adult population is virtually all vaccinated. He also says some people in other countries are waiting for days for fuel and cooking gas – Fijians are not.
Bus fares will be reduced by 10 percent across the board for the next 6 months.
While announcing the 2022/2023 National Budget, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this is effective from 1st August 2022.
He says bus users will pay discounted fares, while Government will pay the difference directly to the bus companies through a $6 million allocation in the 2022-2023 Budget.
The government will make an advance payment to all bus companies for the month of August based on previous records and reconcile this with acquittals and e-ticketing data every month.
The COVID-19 economic support measures announced in the 2021-2022 Budget suchas electricity and water subsidies, Stronger Together Job Support Scheme and Jobs for Nature, social welfare support, access to GPs and medical practitioners, support for transportation (payment of base fees, PSV drivers licence fees, stall fees for market vendors, inshore fishing fees will continue for the next 12 months.
The zero rating VAT on the 21 items announced earlier year will continue.
$145,000 has been set aside in the National Budget to enable Fiji Roads Authority to commence a pre-feasibility investigation into the construction of the Viti Levu cross-country highway.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says this road will become one of, if not the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the history of the South Pacific.
He says from a strategic nation-building perspective, such a highway will significantly reduce travel times and will also unlock serious opportunities for our interior communities who have been constrained by the set-up of national infrastructure network.
He adds the highway will be built section by section, creating jobs all along the way and, once completed, it will be Fiji’s first-ever toll road, bridging the West to Suva creating far greater social mobility and a huge opportunity for commercial, industrial and tourism expansion throughout Viti Levu’s interior.
The Fiji Roads Authority has been allocated $376.7 million in the National Budget of which $362.9 million is for capital works programme.
He says over the next five years, the FRA is undertaking a capital works programme valued at $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, $115.1 million has been allocated for capital investment to improve and expand Fiji’s water distribution network and wastewater management systems.
Sayed-Khaiyum says these networks need to become more reliable, resilient, and capable of serving a nation on the move.
WAF provides services to some 772,000 Fijians nationwide and currently has 154,383 water and 33,190 wastewater active connections.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the new Rewa River Water Supply Scheme Project will now be completed in May of 2023 and this project will end water woes in the Lami-Nausori corridor through an additional 40 million litres worth of water per day for the benefit of over 360,000 Fijians.
The total allocation for WAF is $204.3 million.
The Department of Energy has been allocated $4.0 million to install stand-alone solar home systems in 1,000 homes in remote communities that do not have access to the main EFL grid.
The government will double the number of scholarships to 1,200 and the eligibility criteria will be published by TSLS in the Fijian Scholarship Scheme regulations.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has announced that the number of awards under the National Toppers Local Scheme will increase from 547 to 770, with 40 awards for MBBS, 5 for Bachelor of Dental Surgery and 40 for nursing.
The scholarship cut-off mark for nursing will be 300 for Year 13.
The government will allocate 165 scholarships for teacher training in Maths and Physics, Industrial Arts, Primary Education and Computer Science.
Scholarships for students with special needs will remain at 20, based on past uptake records.
The government will also reinstate the National Toppers Overseas Scheme which was suspended due to border closures. The scheme was previously allocated 20 awards; however, for the next financial year Government will double it to 40 awards, of which 30 will be for degree programmes, 5 for in-service public sector workers and 5 for TVET qualifications.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they will for the first time allocate 10 Ph.D. and 20 Masters-by-research scholarships for full-time studies.
The 3 Masters awards will be ring-fenced for Monash University-Fiji National University Pacific Island Countries Climate Change Research Centre.
The areas will be limited to Medicine, Health, Science, Engineering, Climate Change/Environmental Science, Marine Science, Forestry, Public Policy, Public Financing, Economic Modelling and ICT.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says the government will introduce 200 awards under a rebranded “Skills Qualification” scholarship scheme (previously TVET) at Fiji National University.
The cut-off mark for this scheme will be 250 for Year 13 and 270 for Year 12.
The number of In-Service awards will increase from 120 to 140, of which 100 will be for public sector organisations and 40 for private sector and state owned enterprises.
In addition, 200 grants will be awarded for micro qualifications to develop construction skills, inclusive of a $100 monthly industrial attachment allowance.
The cut-off mark for TELS for Higher Education/Level 7 programmes will remain at 250.
For commerce, the cut-off mark will be 280, except for accounting, economics and management or administration, where the cut-off mark will be 300.
For Skills Qualifications at FNU, the eligibility will be a pass in Year 12, Certificate I or II from Fiji Higher Education Commission recognized institutions or offer letter obtained from FNU.
The government will allocate 2,800 TELS awards for level 7 programmes.
Within this, nursing will have 200 awards, and the allocations for teacher training, ICT, environmental and marine science disciplines will increase. Skills Qualifications from levels 3, 4 and 5 at FNU will have 4,600 allocations.
In total, the government will allocate 8,000 student loans and the criteria will be published by TSLS.
A total of 9,200 scholarships and loans will be awarded in the 2022/2023 financial year with a total allocation of $162.6 million.
The government is allocating $6.9 million for sports grants that will support the development of sports activities in our communities.
$1.9 million has been allocated to assist and enhance the performance of Fiji’s national teams through participation at regional and international tournaments.
Funding in the new financial year has been prioritised for athletics, rugby union, netball, basketball, cricket, hockey and weightlifting.
$79,500 has been allocated to support overseas training for elite athletes and technical officials with funding been prioritised for rugby league, swimming, tennis and yachting.
Regional and international tournaments are a huge source of economic activity for Fiji. Investments in bringing these events to Fiji pay back massive returns. $2 million has been allocated to support the Hosting of International Tournaments.
In addition to this, $500,000 has been allocated to assist Lautoka City Council with grandstand lighting to ensure the Drua games can be played at night.
The Fiji National Sports Commission aims to host the following national sporting events: Australian Football League Fiji, Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Football Association, Netball, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Squash, Tennis and Yachting.
A $1.6 million allocation will ensure that promising elite athletes are exposed to intense high-level training required to participate at renowned competitions in order to better improve the country’s ranking at world events. The funding will directly support the engagement of sports coaches in Football, Netball, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Yachting.
$500,000 in funding will assist the Fiji National Sports Commission to develop sports programmes in rural communities to hone basic skills in a range of sports and identify clear career pathways for young people. Funding will cater for the following: sports community camp programme, train the trainer programme, educate the educator, children in community sports, inclusive sports programme and wellness sports programme.
$200,000 has been provided for the engagement of local and international experts to assist in sports development in the country. The programme aims to support the training and development of local athletes and sports administrators to international standards in several sports for men and women.
The government continues to ensure inclusivity and equality by supporting sports, physical activities and development for people with disabilities and special needs. The funding provision of $60,000 in the new financial year will cater for the Paralympics, Special Olympics and special schools.
In the 2022-2023 financial year, funding of $654,466 has been allocated to support the growth of minor sporting activities, including volleyball, netball, badminton and futsal.
Funding has been allocated to support the construction of two hard courts in Kamikamica Park, Lautoka and Tataiya, Rakiraki; and the construction of two multi-purpose courts in Tuatua Housing, Labasa and Vunidawa, Naitasiri.
Fiji Airways has been selected for a management contract to run the operations of Fiji Airports Limited.
This has been announced by Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the 2022/2023 National Budget.
Fiji Airways Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Andre Viljoen says having management oversight at Fiji Airports will enhance a number of existing synergies between the two companies.
Viljoen says they have had a strong working relationship with Fiji Airports for many years and this management agreement will elevate services to the next level.
He also says COVID-19 has highlighted the need for a new approach to managing Fiji’s airport infrastructure and ensuring its fighting fit for what lies ahead.
Viljoen assures people that as part of this new arrangement, the governance, staff contracts and agreements at Fiji Airports will be unaffected.
Fiji Airports Limited will also retain its current board of directors, and maintain its same responsibilities – including a return to its shareholders.
He says there cannot be a ‘disconnect’ between airlines and airports, and now, more than ever, they need these two companies to be in lockstep, working together to ensure that every airline, every visitor, returning Fijian, freight shipper and inter-island traveller sees the very best of our country represented at our airports.
Fiji Airways will also ensure that potential revenue streams at Fiji Airports are fully realized.
Viljoen says much of the work undertaken by Fiji Airports is technically complex and creating more of these skilled roles is important as it has multiplier effects on the economy.
This new direction will ensure that infrastructure improvements are made across the group with new facilities to enhance the traveller experience to be built at outer island airports (Savusavu, Taveuni, Labasa), Suva Nausori and Nadi International Airport in the coming years.
Meanwhile Fiji Airports Board Chair, Hasmukh Patel has welcomed Fiji Airways onboard, saying the company brings with it decades of experience in the aviation sector and a keen eye for service excellence.
He says with better collaboration between stakeholders and Fiji Airports, a clearly defined and approved master plan can be created for airport expansion and improvement. This master plan, will ensure the planning of timely and cost-effective investments meet the demands of air traffic capacity growth.
Patel says the master plan should also identify improvements in non-aeronautical services, for instance, commercial and auxiliary activities such as rent from airport retail space, revenue from car parking and fees from property leases.
Patel has also assured that current staffing arrangements, and collective agreements at Fiji Airports will not change as a result of Fiji Airways now managing operations.
Students in 84 unconnected or poorly connected schools are expected to get better internet accessibly as $2.5 million has been allocated to connect these schools to the internet.
While announcing the 2022/2023 National Budget, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Ministry of Communications will continue to provide internet connectivity to the unconnected Fijians through the Connectivity Rollout program.
He says last November, they connected 26 schools and 14 health centres in the Northern Division and out of these 40 sites, 26 have Wi-Fi hotspots that provide connectivity for the 17,000 Fijians in the surrounding community.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they had further identified 59 unconnected and poorly connected schools nationwide of which, in the last two months, they have connected 9 schools already which include Navonu Primary School, Eliki Memorial School, Nairukuruku District School, Rewa District School, Saqani High School; Ratu Varani Memorial School, Gau Secondary School; Cautata District School, Muaira Methodist College and Cicia High School in Lau will be connected by the end of this month.
He says $2.5 million has been allocated to connect an additional 49 schools around Fiji and the remaining 35 schools will be connected in the 2023-2024 financial year.
The Minister also says in consultation with the telecommunications sector, an assessment has identified 240 unconnected and poorly connected sites and these sites have been gazetted as universal service areas for mobile connectivity which will be implemented in phases and as such, 15 tower sites have been identified under the Universal Service Areas project to connect at least 96 unconnected or poorly connected areas to voice and internet connectivity.
He says tender was advertised earlier this week and while this is being finalised, they anticipate an estimated cost of $11 million for the construction of these towers.
The Minister says this will be funded from the Universal Service Fund and the Telecommunications Development Trust Fund.
He says $1 million is allocated to the Ministry to conduct a feasibility study and develop implementation plans to build a submarine cable landing station in the western side of Viti Levu.
He says the Vatuwaqa cable landing station provides over 80 percent of international connectivity for Fiji and if it ever fails, they will lose connectivity to most of the country.
The Minister further says in this financial year, they will engage a consultant to undertake a feasibility study, conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, develop implementation plans and engage a project management consultant to oversee this important initiative.
The Ministry has been allocated $53.8 million in the 2022-2023 Budget compared to $54.6 million in the last financial year.
Steps will be taken to house more civil servants through the construction of strata title housing quarters that will be available exclusively to civil servants and their families.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they will start by making the first crop of units available to the Fiji Police Force.
He says over the long term, this will ensure that civil servants can affordably own homes and alleviate pressure on the wider housing market.
This will be done through private investors who will construct and operate strata title housing quarters.
$95,000 has been allocated for National Housing Policy Implementation Plan.
Funding has also been provided in the National Budget to acquire two more development leases for Valemasima in Votualevu, Nadi and Sakoca Stage 2 and after acquisition, these leases will be placed into the informal settlement upgrade work plan.
Sayed-Khaiyum says to date, this government has acquired a total of 42 development leases to safeguard low-income families and also ensure that land owning units are adequately compensated with premium and annual rental payments that are funded directly by the government.
He says of the 42 existing development leases, 12 are currently in the tender stage for the engagement of a contractor and six are currently in the engineering phase.
The Ministry of Housing and Community Development has been provided an allocation of $9.8 million to run the informal settlement upgrade and formalisation programme in the 2022-2023 financial year.
$1.9 million has been allocated to reimburse the remaining 318 victims of the Pacific Community Network Housing scam.
The Ministry has also been provided $1 million to implement the revised Social Housing Policy, with successful applicants eligible for a maximum grant of $10,000 for the purchase and transportation of building materials.
The Ministry has also received $2.1 million to provide shelter to 105 more families in desperate need of safe accommodation under Koroipita Stage 4 program.
He says they are also providing funding in the next financial year to break ground on a new Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services Warehouse, the subdivision construction works for Sasawira informal settlement, the design and building of the existing dormitory and Ratu Kadavulevu School, the upgrading of the Savusavu Market, the rehabilitation and construction of schools in Kadavu and Southern Lau, and the design and building of the Nabouwalu Passenger Terminal.
A budget of $100,000 has been allocated to support vulnerable women and men that are psychologically challenged and are forced to be on the streets due to unacceptance back into their community or families.
The new initiatives for the Department of Social Welfare includes grants to organizations assisting psycho-social and street dwellers.
$147.7 million has been provided to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation to run programmes that can create an inclusive social safety net for Fiji’s most vulnerable groups.
The government will continue funding for programmes which include Poverty Benefit Scheme, Child Protection Allowance, Food Voucher Program, Social Pension Scheme, Disabilities Scheme and Bus Fare Subsidy.
The Ministry will also be establishing the Department of Children that will specialise in services that are in-line with legislative commitments. The Department has the statutory responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of the children of Fiji, including those under the care of the State. $100,000 has been allocated to commence the establishment process.
According to the government, the Poverty Monitoring Unit will continue to monitor and report on Poverty Alleviation programmes implemented by respective government agencies and is tasked to review and develop a 5-year Integrated National Poverty Alleviation Programme Framework. $625,800 has been allocated to the unit.
The National Women’s Expo programme will also be re-introduced at divisional level and has been allocated $300,000.
The government will also amend the Illicit Drugs Control Act to start the industrial hemp industry in the country.
The Minister for Economy stresses that industrial hemp is not marijuana as the THC level is much lower.
The THC level has to be lower than 1 percent.
These will be imported and then seeds will be provided to farmers to start planting industrial hemp.
With an effort to assist farmers recover, $250,000 has been allocated for SELF for large livestock commercial farmers.
Para vets will work with farmers where this is for those who have completed vet science programme.
$323,050 has also been allocated for Yaqara Pastoral. $1.2 million allocated to Food Processors Limited.
The government will also outsource land clearing and farm mechanisation services to private contractors to boost farmer access to land cultivation machinery. The Ministry of Agriculture will receive $7 million in FY2022-2023 for this initiative.
An allocation of $400,000 will be provided for the yaqona farming programme, $600,000 for ginger farming, $200,000 for dalo farming, and $350,000 for rice farming.
The Women in Agriculture programme will receive an allocation of $300,000, and a further $300,000 will be provided to improve farm access roads.
Fiji Rice Limited will also receive a capital grant of $1.3 million.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a slight decrease to their 2022-2023 budget of $64.1 million compared to $61 million in the last financial year.
Considering current challenges faced by farmers in securing machines for land preparation and the drive to cultivate more land for agriculture, engagement of private contractors will be considered to boost this activity.
This initiative will support outsourcing of land clearing and farm mechanisation services, as a way forward in accelerating transition to fully mechanising the sector and addressing recurring obstacles such as establishment of farm access road, ensure easy market access, establishment of large scale farms - orchards etc.
The government has also realised the impact of increasing costs of doing business by farmers and has provided the much needed support with the increase in copra price support to $1,350 per tonne and $400 per tonne to producers and millers respectively.
The Fiji Police Force is allocated $182.6 million seeing a slight reduction of $3.2 million from the Revised 2021-2022 Budget.
The reduction results from the near completion of three new Police Stations, in Nadi, Nakasi and Lautoka.
The three stations plus the new station at Nalawa, will be allocated a total budget provision of $10 million, a reduction of $14.5 million.
An additional $4.2 million is provided for the recruitment of 331 new positions.
The Force is increasingly focused on preventing cybercrimes and combating drug trafficking. In order to reform itself to better address these emerging threats, the force is undergoing a major reform and restructure programme, first announced in 2018.
The Force will now continue with Phase 3 of their five-year reform and restructure programme, which was endorsed by Cabinet in 2018.
The programme was halted for the past two years due to COVID-19 and after Phases 1 and 2 were completed at a cost of $68.3 million.
This includes 289 new recruits, 15 promotions, 7 new civilian positions and 20 new government wage earners.
Government will also be providing $4.9 million for the procurement of Uniforms, Uniforms accessories, Clothing and footwear.
An initial allocation of $1.5 million was provided for improving the condition of the police quarters and posts.
The Force is also allocated $1.2 million to assist the Fijian Elections Office to conduct the 2022 General Elections.
Meanhile, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces total budget for the 2022-2023 financial year is $94.1 million seeing an increase of $8.0 million from the Revised 2021-2022 Budget.
$3.5 million has been allocated to meet salaries and allowances of the peacekeeping officers as aligned to the payroll.
$5 million is allocated to correctly align the lodging allowance and service allowance to the current basic salary of 2,396 RFMF officers. At the moment, these officers are being paid allowances based on their 2013 basic pay.
$400,000 is also provided for the Remote Location Allowance for engineers who are engaged to build and maintain rural projects such as Rotuma hospital, Kadavu foot bridge, Lakeba suspension bridge and Bua Lomanikoro foot bridge.
$2.3 million is allocated for the renovation and upgrade works at RFMF facilities, including renovation and upgrade of RFMF infrastructure, construction of a new warehouse at QEB, upgrade of the Logistic Support Unit Complex, upgrade of Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa and the upgrade of Nadi Camp.
A total of $50.8 million for Peacekeeping Operations, which is an increase of $5.5 million from the Revised 2021-2022 Budget.
The officers deployed for peacekeeping operations were also paid allowances based on their 2013 basic pay rate, and $800,000 is provided to realign the Lodging and Service allowance for 543 peacekeeping officers on the current pay.
Additionally, $3 million has been allocated for military training and equipment, which will be reimbursed by the United Nations.
The Valelevu shuttle bus pilot program is expected to cater for around 13 routes by the end of this year.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the program will serve the Greater Nasinu area, the most densely populated area of the country, including the areas between RB Centrepoint to Davuilevu and Nakasi.
He says they will have electric shuttle buses running on these routes which will represent the first electric public transportation fleet in Fiji.
Sayes-Khaiyum adds aside from making travel cleaner and more convenient, they represent an ambitious and important step towards decarbonising the economy.
The programme will cost the Government around $4 million.
People can expect better facilities at the Savusavu and Labasa Hospitals and at the CWM Hospital Maternity Ward as the Government has allocated $7.2 million for upgrade, refurbishment and construction works in the 2022/2023 National Budget.
While announcing the National Budget, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Savusavu Hospital facility has been plagued by severe weather, and heavy rains combined with insufficient drainage have resulted in its rapid deterioration.
He says $2 million will go towards engaging a contractor to begin the much-needed and frankly long-awaited refurbishment and land stabilisation works at the Savusavu hospital.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this is great news for residents and for the future of Savusavu’s local economy as major investments in the area are putting our hidden paradise on the map and quality and reliable healthcare is a pillar of Savusavu’s sustainable tourism development.
The Minister says $5.2 million will go towards the construction of the CWM Hospital Maternity Ward and the upgrade of the Labasa Hospital interior works.
He says the Ministry will be completing the tender stage to engage a suitable contractor to initiate the planned capital works.
The Minister adds this is good news for the North and for expectant mothers and families in the Central Division. An allocation of $120,000 for the final instalment has been budgeted for to make the final payment on the brand new Hyperbaric Chamber at CWM.
$1 million has been allocated for the outsourcing of biomedical facilities like x-ray machines, MRI scan machines, ultrasound machines and CT scanners including public health system laboratories and to be maintained and operated 24/7 by the private sector in public hospitals.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has been allocated $395.1 million in the 2022/2023 Budget compared to $403.3million in the last finical year.
The Job Evaluation and Civil Service Remuneration Guideline will be amended to expand the definition of scarce skills to facilitate the inclusion of the payment of retention allowance for skill sets that exist in competitive markets for high performing civil servants.
Work on this will be finalised soon and subsequently announced.
The suspension of the payment of Maritime Location Allowance was lifted while a review of Rural Allowances was to be undertaken.
The review has since been completed and from 1 August 2022, Rural Allowances will be reinstated for eligible civil servants at standardised rates across Ministries and Departments.
From 1st August 2022, school based teaching staff will be allowed three days of annual personal leave with the approval of their Heads of Schools and/or the Divisional Education Offices.
To align to international best practice, the amount of annual leave that can be carried into a new leave year within a valid contract period will raise from 10 to 12 days; depending on the operational context of the Department or Ministry, flexi hours may be considered by the respective Permanent Secrataries. With the government recognizing the high demand for nurses overseas especially in Australia and New Zealand which was evident by the high turnover experienced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Ministry of Health will work with the Fiji Nursing Council to identify additional specialised areas of nursing to allow the Ministry to remunerate these specialisations accordingly.
The payment of transport allowance will be prioritised for those in public health care nursing in rural areas.
Midwives have been a scarce skill in Fiji for some time with the government investing in higher salaries and increase training opportunities to ensure we have enough midwives in the country. Degree level teaching positions have been evaluated at Band F, similar to other positions across the civil service.
From 1st August 2022, teachers who are eligible to be on Band F, will transition to Step 3 of Band F. This will also apply to newer graduates with relevant qualifications. This is to allow for some consistency in the pay of teachers.
Teachers on Bands D & E on shorter term contracts will be provided with five-year contracts to allow them time to upgrade their qualifications so they can move up to higher bands and earn themselves a pay rise.
A new Customer Service Guideline was approved and circulated to all Ministries and Departments earlier this month for implementation.
As part of the implementation, a customer service has been launched with a feedback line.
The 157 toll-free number now allows anyone in Fiji to provide feedback or submit a complaint related to customer services they have received at any government ministry or department and will also serve as a feedback loop that will contribute to the performance assessments of staff, and of the respective Ministries and Departments. The feedback received on the toll-free number will inform an announcement next year of the Top 5 service-driven ministries and departments.
Meanwhile the government will be restoring the ten percent pay cut that was asked of all the Permanent Secretaries throughout the pandemic and any voluntary pay cuts taken by the Heads of government funded agencies from 1 August 2022.
Ministers, Assistant Ministers, and MPs will remain on 25 percent reduced pay.
An additional 23 General Practitioners have been included in the Free GP Scheme that will see more Fijians get access to free health services.
While announcing the 2022-2023 National Budget, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there will now be 38 private General Practitioners in 40 outlets, providing medical services to ordinary Fijians, with all costs borne by the Government.
He says the General Practitioners have been selected in Korovou, Nausori, Nakasi, Nadera, Suva, Navua, Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Labasa and Savusavu.
The government-funded medical services on offer at these clinics include consultations, reviews, referrals, injections, and dressings, including minor dressings, multi-urine dipstick, Electrocardiogram (ECG), nebulizer, oxygen supply, ultrasound scan, and the sugar prick test. Approved laboratory testing services under the scheme will provide testing for sugar levels, cComplete blood count, basic metabolic panel, cholesterol level, clycated haemoglobin, liver function; and renal function.
He further says another $200,000 has been allocated to incentivise Private General Practitioners to establish new clinics in densely populated peri-urban and rural areas, including Nawaicoba, Malolo, Naidovi, Drasa, Sabeto, Seaqaqa, Dreketi, Nasarawaqa, Korolevu and Pacific Harbour.
$1 million is allocated for the Free GP Scheme in the 2022-2023 Budget.
Meanwhile, there are currently four Dental Practitioners under the scheme who provide consultation or oral examination, extraction, temporary filling, and permanent filling and $500,000 has been allocated for the Private Dental Practitioners Scheme in the national budget.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this partnership eases the burden on public medical facilities and is initiative is also an opportunity for dentists to grow their patient base and support the public health system in providing the necessary medical care to Fijians.
He says they will also broaden the availability of medical and dental services by allowing medical and dental practitioners engaged under the Public Private Partnership Scheme to prescribe, supply and dispense essential medicines for a 24-hour period, as approved by the Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services.
He says this is a means to grant flexibility to patients, not upend the pharmaceutical sector and prescriptions at the clinic level will only be permitted when the nearest pharmacy is closed, otherwise these operators will be fined.
The medicines that the medical practitioners will be able to supply and dispense includes amoxicillin capsules, flucloxacillin capsules, ibuprofen tablets, paracetamol oral rehydration salt, and the medicines that the dental practitioners under the PPP Scheme will be able to supply and dispense include ibuprofen tablets and paracetamol.
Click here for indepth coverage on the 2022/2023 National Budget.
National Federation Party President Pio Tikoduadua says they do not think that the freebies announced in the 2022/2023 National Budget will change the mindset of the people of Fiji.
Speaking after the announcement of the 2022/2023 National Budget, Tikoduadua says people understand what the reality is on the ground but they will go back and really scrutinize the budget.
Tikoduadua says the budget has a lot of freebies.
He adds a lot of people are still suffering from COVID-19 and now with the high cost of living, he questions the Government as to how the assistance will be rolled out.
The NFP President says time will tell if this budget will assist vulnerable Fijians.
SODELPA Leader Viliame Gavoka says we are definitely heading to elections any day now and it is very much a budget that is preparing the way forward for the government to start campaigning.
Gavoka says the government has adopted some of their policies as there are a number of items like education in the delivered budget that he claims to have originated from SODELPA.
Gavoka says they will spend the weekend studying the budget closely.
|2022-2023 Budget||Address||Supplement||Estimates||News Stories||Video|
A 5-year age limit will be imposed on the importation of secondhand petrol and diesel motor vehicles. This will be aligned to the age limit of 5 years on hybrid vehicles. The Euro IV compliance requirement will be maintained. A transitional period will be allowed to import vehicles older than 5 years provided that the vehicle was ordered, paid for or loaded for shipment to Fiji on or before 16th July 2022 and that the shipment arrives in Fiji on or before 31st December 2022.
The Residential Housing and Development Incentive Package will be further incentivized as follows: A 50% developer profit exemption will be available to projects with a minimum investment level of $5m and at least 10 residential units. Customs concession (zero duty) on the importation of capital equipment, plant and machinery. There will be no condition on the sale price.
The 150% tax deduction available to hotels and resorts that hire local artists such as craftsmen, dancers and musicians will be increased to 300%
A 100% tax deduction will be available to companies on the amount of tuition and living expenses paid for student(s) at a higher education institution specified in the Higher Education Act 2008. The deduction applicable for the purpose of living expenses is limited to $7,000 per calendar year and must be paid into a bank account held at a commercial trading bank under the name of the student.
The 10% reduced rate of corporate tax available to companies listed on the SPSE will only be available for 7 years. Companies that have enjoyed for 7 years or more will now pay the corporate tax at the rate of 20%. This will be effective from Tax Year 2023. The Government will increase the FNPF employer and employee contributions from 6% to 7% from 1st January 2023 through 31st December 2023. AG says for more than a year now, FNPF members’ accounts have received contributions at a lower rate. This 1% reversal for both employers and employees should credit around $40 million to members’ accounts. Government will eventually revert the contribution rates to a total of 18% (10% for employers and 8% for employees) in the coming years. Any employer who chooses to contribute in excess of the 7% mandatory contribution up to 10%, will be allowed to deduct 300% of the additional contribution from their taxes, and that additional income for their employees will be exempt from income tax.
Duty on used cars will be increased by $1,000 while the duty on new cars will be increased by 5% import excise duty. The government will also introduce a luxury vehicle tax of $10,000 per vehicle for vehicles above 3,000cc. To further promote and support the use of green technologies, they are expanding incentives to support the purchase of Electric Vehicles and charging stations. Government had previously announced a 7 year tax deduction and a 5% subsidy for capital investments in charging infrastructure/stations for EV above $100,000. The subsidy has now increased to 10% on investments over a lower threshold of $50,000. VAT and fiscal duty on all EVs will now be zero-rated to allow accelerated depreciation of 100%. Government will also provide a $5,000 subsidy per vehicle if a local business purchases 5 vehicles or more.
The current employment taxation scheme expires in 2023 and allows for a 300% tax deduction on first full-time employees, on wages paid for work placements in a related area of study up to 6 months in a year before graduation and to students employed on a part-time basis.
Outsource Fiji will receive an increased grant of $600,000 in FY2022-2023. In addition, $1.0 million will be provided towards the BPO expansion programme.
25 digital services will roll out in 22 months.
Biz Fiji Portal - $9 million allocated for BizFiji 2.0
Jobs for Nature 2.0 - opportunity for minimum wage for wetland protection.
AG says overall, this should bring about competition for the supply of dairy products and lower prices for ordinary Fijians.
Rewa Dairy has had duty protection for 10 years. Most of Rewa’s supply of milk and other dairy products is being imported, because local demand far exceeds the supply capacity from the local dairy industry. The government will be phasing out duty protections for Fiji Dairy in the lead-up to the expiration between the Government and Southern Cross Foods Ltd on 31st August 2022.
Duty will be reduced from 32% to 5% after expiry of the agreement on cheese, yoghurt, and liquid and powdered milk.
$500,000 allocated for new forest products as part of the diversification for the forestry sector.
$4.2 million allocated for 331 new positions in the Police force.
Fiji Police Force allocated $182.6 million.
$1.3 million allocated to e-passports.
$16.9 million allocated to the Office of the Prime Minister.
$8.6 million allocated to Parliament.
$5.8 million allocated to the Office of the Auditor General.
$94.1 million allocated to RFMF. $5 million allocated to aligning of lodging allowance.
There will be a restriction of commercial vehicles entering residential areas from August 1st 2022.
$800,000 allocated to new IT system.
$22.4 million allocated to LTA.
The 25 percent pay cut for Ministers and MPs remain.
The 10 percent pay cut of senior civil servants will be restored.
Ministry of Civil Service will look at rightsizing. Look at positions that remain vacant for some time. This will ensure that the civil service is not bloated.
157 toll free line is a feedback line on the behaviour of civil servants. The best and poorest performing departments will be announced.
Teachers pay - 1,295 have upgraded their qualifications, and they are expected to move to higher salary bands.
There will be additional ward assistants and more midwives.
3 days announced for annual personal leave for teachers to attend to matters.
Job Evaluation Exercise for civil servants to retain those with scarce skills.
The guaranteed cane price will stay.
These will be imported and then seeds will be provided to farmers to start planting industrial hemp.
The THC level has to be lower than 1 percent.
The AG stresses that industrial hemp is not marijuana as the THC level is much lower.
Amend the Illicit Drugs Control Act to start industrial hemp industry in the country.
$323,050 allocated for Yaqara Pastoral.
Para vets will work with farmers. This is for those who have completed vet science programme.
$250,000 allocated for SELF for large livestock commercial farmers.
$5.2 million allocated for the extension of the CWM maternity ward.
$1 million allocated for outsourcing x-ray services, MRI and CT scans.
$2 million allocated for the refurbishment and land stabilisation of Savusavu Hospital.
Government will allocate 165 scholarships for teacher training in Maths and Physics, Industrial Arts, Primary Education and Computer Science. The Scholarship Scheme for students with special needs will continue. Awards for the In-Service Scheme will increase from 120 to 140 awards.
National Toppers - there will be 40 awards to MBBS, 5 for Bachelor of Dental Surgery and 40 for nursing. The scholarship cut-off mark for the nursing programme will be 300 in Year 13.
$200,000 allocated to incentivize GPs to open up centres in some areas.
$1 million allocated to the free General Practitioner Program.
$1.6 million allocated to elite athletics training.
$2 million allocated for international tournaments.
$1.9 million allocated for Fiji's national teams.
$6.9 million for sports grants.
$581 million in TELS debts. Huge discounts offered at 50 percent. AG says they had a meeting with banks to give them loans to take advantage of these discounts.
National Toppers will increase to 770 awards. This will include scholarships for nurses. The cut off mark for Year 13 students will be 330.
Qualifying marks will be 250 for Year 13 students and 270 marks for Year 12 students.
200 students will get these scholarships.
Skills Qualification will now be part of the scholarship program.
TVET rebranded Skills Qualification.
$500 grant allocated to private students who cannot get scholarships or loans.
$162 million allocated for scholarships, loans and grants.
A new Fiji Pharmaceutical Services warehouse will be built in Sasawira.
Funding allocated to acquire Valemasima and Sakoca as development leases. This is part of the informal settlement upgrade.
Fiji Airways will now become a national partner to manage Fiji Airports.
Valelevu Shuttle Program will cater for 13 routes by the end of the year at a cost of $4 million. Electric buses are planned to be used.
$14.6 million allocated to Walesi to connect the unconnected.
15 tower sites identified to connect telecommunications services to the unconnected.
Nadi River Flood Alleviation Project is pushing ahead.
Major service disruptions are also being experienced along the Tacirua East Sub- Division feed zone. Due to a land dispute, the government could not fully access or utilise the reservoir at the Tacirua East subdivision. They have developed an alternative route to the reservoir.
WAF has been allocated $1.1 million for the urgent completion of the pipe-laying and connection works to the Tacirua East Reservoir - AG
$500,000 has been allocated for the lighting at Churchill Park.
Assist Lautoka City Council with grandstand lighting to ensure the Drua games can be played at night.
$4 million allocated for solar energy.
The government will amend the WAF Act to allow them to issue infringement notices.
To assist social welfare pensioners with the current high inflation, all existing social welfare, Government pension and After Care Fund recipients will receive a payment of $180 over a 6 month period. It’s expected that around 100,000 Fijians will benefit from this initiative at $30 a month.
AG says they will provide one dollar per day per child in each family, or seven dollars a week or around 30 dollars per month –– making for a total of $180 per child for the next 6 months. A family with 3 children, for example, will receive $540 in grocery assistance over the next 6 months
$204.3 million allocated to the Water Authority of Fiji.
Through this budget, the government will provide direct cash assistance to the most vulnerable Fijian families based on the number of children in each household. This applies to all children, from newborns to those in Year 13 — for Fijian families with a combined annual income of $50,000 or less.
$145,000 has been allocated to conduct studies to have a Viti Levu cross country highway.
$60 million has been allocated for the maintenance of roads.
Over the next two years, $2.5 billion has been allocated for FRA capital works.
All tertiary students will get $180.
From 1st of August, the government will directly subsidise 10 percent of bus fares.
Those who are under the bus fare, water and electricity subsidy will qualify immediately.
$60 million set aside under Inflation Mitigation Package.
Direct cash assistance will be provided to vulnerable family members based on the number of children in the households.
The zero-rated VAT on the 21 items will continue - AG
Forecast revenue for the new financial year is $2.9 billion while the forecast expenditure is $3.8 billion. Debt to GDP ratio will be 85 percent.
Over $1 billion has been loaned to the private sector in the first 5 months of this year.
He says many countries have vaccinated fewer than half of their eligible populations –– Fiji’s adult population is virtually all vaccinated. He also says some people in other countries are waiting for days for fuel and cooking gas –– Fijians are not.
AG says many developed and developing nations are facing down a recession – Fiji is not. He says many nations are facing double-digit inflation, even as high as 80% – Fiji’s is in the single digits.
He also says the Opposition serve themselves and the only job they care about is their own.
Foreign reserves hit a record high of $3.62 billion equivalent to 8.4 months of imports.
He says in the coming months we expect $1 billion in investments in the private sector.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they borrowed prudently.
He says that’s at least $100 million annual savings on interest payments —mainly due to Government's ability to negotiate lower-cost, policy-based loans and concessional financing.
The average cost of our overall debt portfolio as of July is 4.4 percent of almost a quarter from pre-pandemic levels - AG
In 2 years the government lost about $2.8 billion in revenue
He says thanks to our recovery, right off the bat, this budget builds more buffers to the price-increase crisis.
The bad news is that even though wages are rising, so are prices due to challenges Fiji didn’t cause and cannot control - AG
AG says most importantly, the wages paid to our people are up by $210 million –– 15 percent higher compared to this same six-month period last year. He says this is $210 million in the pockets of our taxi drivers, tourism employees, airport staff, factory workers, farmers and families.
92% of employees have returned compared to pre-COVID - AG
Cumulative revenue collection as at 30th June 2022 amounted to $1.96 billion, of which $1.5 billion was tax revenue. Fiji is well on track to achieving the $2.25 billion annual revenue forecast, with June tax collections exceeding the forecast by $11.6 million.
500,000 visitor arrivals expected for this year.
AG says the boom is back and it is a Bula Boom.
There has also been increased vacancies recorded - AG
171,000 employment in the formal sector.
The economy is projected to grow by 12.4 percent this year.
The 2022/2023 budget creates certainty - AG
Most people hope there is a level of subsidy in terms of food prices and the Government with its own analysis is very aware of the issues on the ground and would have made adjustments on policies on what the different ministries are telling them.
FRIEND Fiji CEO, Sashi Kiran has made these comments and says if the Government is concerned about the people then the National Budget will be for the long term that benefits the people and country for the long run and its not a short sighted budget for the election.
She further says there is a massive infrastructure need as water cuts are becoming a norm and is really affecting a lot of people.
Kiran says another big issue people need to talk about is the repair of floodgates and because of these damaged floodgates there is saltwater intrusion in a lot of farms.
With respect to COVID-19, Kiran believes there needs to be a lot of precautions taken and some support to parents could be provided to ensure masks and sanitizers are available for children in schools and buses.
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the budget at 8 tonight. Stay with us for details on how the budget affects your pockets and your family as a whole.
We will look at the duties and taxes on goods and services that affect you and allocation of tax dollars to the different sectors as part of the provision of government services.
The National Budget has to be able to respond to those regional employment preferences in other countries which has an impact on us as we have our skilled professionals like nurses, accountants and chefs leaving for jobs overseas.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has made these comments as he says Fiji has to train people following the departure of the skilled professionals.
Sayed-Khaiyum says we are lucky that we do not have an ageing population, and we have a cadre of people that have to be trained.
The Minister will present the budget at 8pm tomorrow.
As people await the announcement of the 2022/2023 National Budget tonight, cost of living remains a major issue.
People are looking forward to targeted measures in the National Budget that could decrease the cost of living which has become real concern.
Fijivillage spoke to people on the streets and asked what are their concerns.
A few market vendors from the interior of Viti Levu have raised that it is difficult to sell their produce due to lesser people buying vegetables and transportation cost has gone up to $30 to $50 due to the rise of fuel prices.
They also say that their returns are low in the market.
Shanil Deo who sells fruits at the Suva Market says he is not able to make enough sales to cater for his expenses.
He says with the high costs and low sales, some days his unsold produce goes bad.
He further says with the increase in fuel prices, the farmers are unable to deliver fruits and vegetables to the market.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji says the war in Ukraine continues to subvert major commodity markets, supply chains and trading partner economies, causing imported inflation to surge to 10 percent while domestic inflation stood at 3.4 percent.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has said in budget consultation sessions that fuel prices are above US$100/barrel for some time, and the Russia-Ukraine war and supply disruptions has affected the prices of fuel, wheat, fertilizer and other goods.
He also says there has also been a substantial increase in freight costs due to supply-chain issues.
Sayed-Khaiyum says food prices are also at an all-time high measured by the FAO food price index. This includes meat, dairy, sugar, cereals and vegetable oil.
He has also made it clear that government had to increase its borrowings to sustain the economy.
The Minister says the alternative of not borrowing and supporting the economy during the last 2 years would have been catastrophic.
He says the economic decline and socio-economic consequences would have been much more severe, including a large devaluation.
Sayed-Khaiyum also pointed out that almost every country increased its borrowing levels substantially.
The Minister will deliver the budget at 8 tonight. Stay with us for details on how the budget affects your pockets and your family as a whole.
We will look at the duties and taxes on goods and services that affect you and allocation of tax dollars to the different sectors as part of the provision of government services. You can also follow our coverage on our website and mobile app, fijivillage.
The Turaga-ni-Koro of Vunitogoloa Village in Ra, Josefa Manakiwai says there are many parents and grandparents who are not well versed with the topping up of the bus fare cards and has suggested for the cards to be only used as boarding cards for students.
He says there should be no need to top up the cards.
While speaking at the budget consultation in Rakiraki, Manakiwai says some students are not able to liaise with their teachers and they may be shy as well.
He says students should be allowed to board the bus with the card without any funds.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the reason why there is a need to top up the cards is because they pay bus companies.
He says they pay about $24 million in a year to bus companies for the free bus fare scheme.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there were also cases in the past where parents were using their children’s cards and high school students were coming to towns in the night.
The Minister for Economy told Manakiwai that he understands what he is saying because it is a hassle however they have to come up with a scheme that can avoid these issues.
Civil servants would like to see the family care leave entitlement return because right now they only have sick leave, bereavement leave and professional leave.
This has been highlighted by a head of school during a budget consultation in Pacific Harbour.
She says if there is growth in the Fijian economy as projected, then she is asking if civil servants could have family care leave entitlement again.
In response, Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there are certain things in the budget but he does not want to give anything away.
He says when the government apply the family care leave, it has to be done across the board but teachers are different because they do not get annual leave.
The Minister has stressed there will be no cut in civil servants’ pay in the upcoming financial year.
Workers were given 5 days of family care leave in the 2020-2021 national budget and it was then put on hold for this financial year.
Nakasi High School Principal Praveen Chand has raised concerns about students being irresponsible in taking care of government-funded textbooks and has suggested that the government should look into setting up an outlet where students can buy their textbooks if they lose them.
Chand highlighted this to the Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in a budget consultation held at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.
Chand says thousands of dollars are used to purchase textbooks, however when students lose their textbooks, they don’t have any place to get a replacement.
He says even though textbooks are available online, the students do not want to use them.
He adds that because the government funds a lot for children's education, students become irresponsible and abuse the free resources.
Responding to the suggestion, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says he will talk to the Ministry of Education because he understands that textbooks are online but not everyone can go online.
A suggestion has been made during the National Budget consultations that restaurants with different income levels should be charged different VAT rates.
A Nausori businessman has told Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum that most of the items they purchase are VAT free however, they pay 15% VAT.
Sayed-Khaiyum suggested to the man if he could email the suggestions to which the man replied that he already has.
The National Budget will be delivered next Friday.
People are expected to find out the recommended increase in taxi fare tomorrow.
This has been confirmed by the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after a question was raised by a taxi operator during the budget consultation in Rakiraki.
The man says he is requesting an increase in taxi fare as there has been none in the past 11 years.
In response, Sayed-Khaiyum says FCCC still have to do their assessments.
The FCCC is expected to release a press statement soon.
The Commission began reviewing the taxi fare in may and invited taxi and minibus operators and members of the public to actively participate in the review by providing their views, comments, and suggestions on current and future taxi and minibus fares.
Minister for Health, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete confirms that they are expecting the second phase of the new CWM Suva Women’s Unit or the maternity ward extension to resume soon according to their strategic development plan.
With the National Budget to be announced tonight, Dr Waqainabete says that most of their maintenance work and development projects had to be on hold as resources were diverted towards COVID-19 response.
There has been no construction of the CWM maternity ward extension for now and it is being used to park cars.
The new Suva Women’s Unit project will offer post, ante and neonatal facilities; a first stage delivery room; a post anaesthetics delivery unit; eight new delivery rooms; three new operating theatres; a palliative Care Ward; a High Dependency Unit; conference rooms; ultrasound and x-ray capabilities, a family planning office, all built to the same standard as hospitals in more developed countries.
The 2022/2023 National Budget will be announced at 8 tonight by the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Fiji needs to remain competitive when it comes to tourism, and there have already been cases of some hotels selling a bottle of stubby for $12.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has highlighted this as he spoke on the work that has been done to open up the borders after getting majority of the eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says the National Budget has to be able to respond to those regional employment preferences in other countries which has an impact on us as we have our skilled professionals like nurses, accountants and chefs leaving for jobs overseas.
He says he recently found out that 6 senior nurses went overseas from a health centre, more chefs are leaving and about 60 accountants have left for Australia. Sayed-Khaiyum says we are lucky that we do not have an ageing population, and we have a cadre of people that have to be trained.
If farmers continue to be victimized due to land lease issues, I do not know when they will be able to contribute to the economic development of the country and towards the GDP.
This has been highlighted by a farmer in Nakasi during the budget consultation with the Minister for Economy.
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says tourism contributes 40% towards the GDP and has a huge impact on the economy.
He says however, the focus is also on the agriculture sector, business processes outsourcing and sports.
He further says he had a meeting on Saturday in Kuku where a man had said that there is too much cassava now and they are not getting the right price and asked how can they be helped.
Sayed-Khaiyum says he heard a politician that they will solve the inflation problem by growing more cassava and dalo.
He says if everybody grows dalo and cassava, farmers will complain they are only getting 5 cents a kilogram.
People’s Alliance Leader, Sitiveni Rabuka had earlier said that Fiji’s poverty rate can be much lower if we get more people in the rural areas including villages to go into farming to earn more.
He says that is the party’s answer to reduce poverty levels as people can get a lot of money by planting crops like cassava and dalo as calculations show these crops earn more money per tonne compared to sugar. He says unfortunately many of the former rural dwellers have moved to the urban centres where you must be earning daily to be able to maintain a respectable and acceptable way of living.
A man who had a vehicle in Kadavu transporting goods to the wharf and another one that was usually hired out in Suva is asking for assistance from the government after both his vehicles were repossessed during the height of the pandemic.
This was because he wasn’t able to earn money to repay the loans that he had taken out for the vehicles.
While speaking during the budget consultation in Nausori, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that they will look into his case and see what can be done or if anything can be done.
The man also asked about the After Care Fund which is a fund for ex-servicemen.
Sayed-Khaiyum is unaware of that restriction.
The National Budget will be delivered at 7.30pm next Friday.
A Nausori farmer has made a request to the Minister for Economy if more money can be poured into the Agriculture Ministry.
While speaking during the budget consultation in Nausori, the man told Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum that during COVID, the Ministry of Agriculture did well and people need to be enlightened about agriculture.
The farmer also raised the issue of hiring machinery as it will become a costly affair due to the rising cost of fuel.
While responding to the man, Sayed-Khaiyum says he remembers when he was in school, the farming profession was looked down upon.
Sayed-Khaiyum also says the reason why the agriculture sector did not grow for years was because laws prohibited leases for more than 30 years for agriculture.
He adds they are looking at how they can best address the issue of hiring machines.
The National Budget will be delivered next Friday.
A request has been made by a villager of Koromakawa in the district of Wairiki for their road to be fixed as around 40 children from the village have to walk 4 to 5 kilometres every morning to reach their school.
While speaking during the National Budget consultation, the man told the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum that they are receiving complaints from teachers that children get fatigued and are sleeping in the classrooms as they have to walk many kilometres to reach school.
He says children have to wake up at 5.30 in the morning.
He says rural service licence vehicles are not able to pick children from the village due to bad road conditions.
The villager also told Sayed-Khaiyum that two mothers gave birth while on their way to the hospital due to the deteriorated state of the road.
The man has also requested the Government for a police post to be built in Korotari, Labasa following the death of a man on the 5th of last month.
The villager told Sayed-Khaiyum that Korotari is a picnic area and drug cases have also been reported.
He says they are requesting if this area could be made safe for people who are coming for a picnic.
Sayed-Khaiyum has thanked the man for bringing up these issues and asked him to provide all the details and his contact to his team.
You can start earning the minimum wage rate through the Jobs for Nature Program by just planting seedlings of mangroves, breadfruit and other trees according to Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
He says they will provide the seedlings and people will just have to plant.
Sayed-Khaiyum says for people to access wages, they will need to have a registered club and this is where the process will begin.
While speaking at the National Budget consultation in Labasa today, Sayed-Khaiyum says they have got money from the World Bank and about $17 million will be spread out over a three year period.
He says they want to engage youth and women’s groups.
The Minister for Economy says details regarding this project will be advertised soon.
A real estate agent has told the Minister for Economy during the budget consultations that a 2% commission on the sale of a residential property is not sustainable for some businesses.
The agent says they used to charge 5% commission before and bringing it down to 2% is a 60% reduction in their income.
He says despite this their expenses have not decreased.
While responding, Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they are thinking long term and they will look into it if the Association makes a submission.
However Sayed-Khaiyum also says real estate agents have fractures between themselves and that is a pity because they do not have a strong association.
Government debt is forecast to reach $9.1 billion, equivalent to 88.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product compared to a total debt of $5.2 billion at the end of July 2018 equivalent to 45.9 percent of GDP.
It had been forecast that by end of July 2022, domestic debt is expected to be $5.8 billion and external debt is forecast at $3.3 billion.
According to Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, financial institutions and development partners continue to lend money to Fiji because they know Fiji has the ability to pay its debt and the economy is being managed well.
This was stated by Sayed-Khaiyum during a budget consultation in Lautoka.
Sayed-Khaiyum says if Fiji did not have the ability to pay its debt, then financial institutions won’t lend money to Fiji.
He adds every country that are service driven had a huge impact on their revenue due to COVID.
Sayed-Khaiyum says government had to substantially increase its borrowings during the pandemic.
He says they had to provide income support of over $500 million assisted those unemployed/reduced hours, provided much-needed fiscal stimulus for business activity and helped increase our vaccination rates.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this was on top of all other expenditure to ensure there is no major disruptions to public services.
He says the government had to increase its borrowings to sustain the economy, and the alternative of not borrowing and supporting the economy during the last 2 years would have been catastrophic.
The Acting PM says the economic decline and socio-economic consequences would have been much more severe, including a large devaluation. He also says almost every country increased its borrowing levels substantially.
Those who have done Foundation studies and want to get TELS to pay for their MBBS studies are not eligible as only those who have done Year 13 and qualify under the requirements can be assisted.
Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum made this clear after a parent asked a question in the budget consultation in Nadi whether his daughter who has done Foundation can qualify for TELS to fund her MBBS education.
The man said his daughter has scored A+ in all subjects and is in the MBBS program this year.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the current requirements are clear and the man’s daughter does not qualify. He also says they have to crunch the numbers for the next budget but he cannot say what will be in it.
The National Budget will be delivered on the 15th of next month.
A FNU student has asked if the apprentices fall under the recent increase in minimum wage and whether they will get the minimum wage of $4 an hour.
The student raised the issue during a budget consultation with the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
She had also asked Sayed-Khaiyum if the apprentice scheme can lower the bar a bit for students who cannot make it academically but can succeed in the field.
The Acting Prime Minister says apprentices receive wages which are already gazetted and some of the gazetted amounts are subsidised.
He further says an example is the garment industry where they have a wage that is slightly lower because they hire people who do not know anything.
Sayed-Khaiyum says for the first three months when they train them, the wage is slightly lower but after three months the wages increase.
He adds they also do not want people dropping out in Form 3 and there has to be a particular level of numeracy, literacy and skill-sets.
Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the National Budget on the 15th of next month.
Investment in education remains a top priority for government.
This was highlighted by the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during a budget consultation at FNU Samabula.
Sayed-Khaiyum says on average, government allocates $700 million to the education sector.
He further says they did not stop free education even though government revenue went down by 50 percent.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds they still had TELS and they made some adjustments but now as the economy gets better they want to continue with that.
Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the National Budget on the 15th of next month.
There are people who are poor but the statement from the Fiji Council of Social Services regarding food poverty has been blown out of proportion.
This has been stated by the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while speaking at the CSO Forum on Effective Development Cooperation this morning.
He says the statement from FCOSS did not mention that all social welfare recipients received a $50 top up, government revenue got slashed by 50 percent in the past two years, $4 billion was lost in foreign exchange and that there was $2 billion decrease in Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product.
Sayed-Khaiyum says while all these happened, the government still maintained poverty alleviation schemes, free education and access to bus fares.
Fiji Council of Social Services Executive Director Vani Catanasiga had stated earlier in the week that some children are scavenging for scrap metal in dump sites while others are selling food near supermarkets to put food on the table for their families.
She says quick action needs to be taken as children are missing out on their education.
When questioned today, Catanasiga says there has been a concerted effort from the government to try and tackle some of the challenges but what they are saying is that some things have been left out.
“We need to be able to learn to change our food eating habits as some are too used to roti, purini, babakau, panikeke and bread which are made from imported ingredients.”
This is according to the Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who says flour is a price control item in Fiji but if the landing cost of wheat will increase, then the price of flour will increase.
While speaking at the CSO Forum on Effective Development Cooperation this morning, Sayed-Khaiyum says similarly the price of fuel has substantially increased and all of these are having an impact.
He says it is even a greater need now for civil society organisations to work in collaboration with the government as opposed to diverging away from what government is doing.
When questioned on Sayed-Khaiyum’s call for them to work together, the Executive Director of the Fiji Council of Social Services, Vani Catanasiga says Sayed-Khaiyum is on point with his comments and they are trying to work with the government.
There is good news for 392,175 FNPF members as a total of $371 million will be credited into their account next Friday evening.
This comes as the FNPF has approved a credit interest rate of 6% for the fiscal year ending this month.
FNPF CEO, Viliame Vodonaivalu says the interest amount each member will receive depends on the average daily balance over the years.
He says the growth in interest relates to a high return achieved from investment that they have strategically managed.
Vodonaivalu says the predominant component of the investment return is the government bond income and equity investment return and equity investment return can be attributed to infrastructure investment, and partly to the recovery of the tourist industry since the border opened in December last year.
The CEO says the Fund is able to pay a higher interest rate than it did in 2021 when they paid 5% because of their diversified investment portfolio.
He says the 6% interest rate serves as a reassuring signal to their members that the fund and its future is secure.
Vodonaivalu adds all active FNPF member accounts will have a $35 debit made next Friday for the Special Death Benefit premium.
He says the special death benefit premium of $35 for death coverage of up to $8,500 has been maintained by the board for the upcoming financial year from July 1st to 30th June next year.
In a bid to help ease the traffic flow between the Suva to Nausori corridor, government is looking at relocating some of their offices out to the Nasinu area and they are about to finalize where these offices will be located.
While answering a question about the traffic jams during a budget consultation at FNU Samabula Campus, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says a lot of civil servants who work in Suva live in the corridor and it will be easy for them to go from home to work.
He adds the idea is also to make public transportation a lot more attractive.
Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the National Budget on the 15th of next month.
Expect prices of goods impacted by global factors, to continue to rise as the Reserve Bank of Fiji has predicted that the inflation rate which currently stands at 5 percent is expected to go as high as above 7 percent by the end of the year before it starts going down.
With these global issues continuing to affect us, the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has also confirmed that prices of Rewa Powdered Milk and Rewa Butter increase from today.
The Commission stresses that it is important to remember that the measures brought in by the government and the Commission cannot completely eliminate rising costs, which means that all Fijians will need to do their part as consumers and prepare to be more frugal in the days to come and practise prudence in their spending habits.
It says Fiji’s major dairy source, Fonterra, based in New Zealand, is experiencing expanding overseas demand and higher milk prices offered by the leading dairy cooperative.
This has put pressure on Fonterra's product prices to rise.
The FCCC says with such price movement globally, coupled with Fiji’s new labour wage amendments and nominal inflation, the prices of most milk brands available in the market are expected to rise.
The spillover effect from the global factors means that many goods, manufactured products, and services that relied on the global services, as well as goods sourced from overseas, have become scarcer, and more expensive to get.
This includes things such as fuel, raw materials for building, computers and imported foods like produce (potato, onions and garlic), wheat, edible oil and dairy products.
fijivillage had earlier asked the FCCC whether fuel and wheat prices would go up again, and it has been said that we expect that based on the negative effects seen for us based on the global factors.
The Commission says in fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 placed a massive constraint on the milk and butter manufacturing market in 2020, as supply chains were disrupted due to trade restrictions and consumption declined due to lockdowns imposed by governments globally, which has been carried into 2021 and onward.
The Global Dairy Industry, which is the source of three major price regulated items - powdered and liquid milk, and butter, has been experiencing rising global milk production post COVID-19 till date.
The FCCC says according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the increase in world dairy prices in 2021 was mainly driven by China’s imports.
China is the world's largest dairy importer, and in 2021, imports surged significantly due to rising demand from consumers, the food processing industry and increased food services activities.
Import demand also rose in several other countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, reflecting increased market activities and consumer demand.
The FCCC says it is important to note that our domestic prices are largely driven by the prices for the goods we import from overseas.
The Commission says the prices for these overseas goods are set by global manufacturers, which as a small Pacific Island Country we have no choice but to accept.
The FCCC says there are measures being taken to help consumers deal with this inflation, such as the work being done by the Fijian Government to help many people and businesses through many initiatives, grants and programmes.
It says notable among these initiatives has been the removal of VAT from essential items, which includes liquid and powdered milk.
The FCCC says it has also played a role in this, by ensuring traders are passing on the benefit of this initiative to Fijian consumers.
In addition, FCCC remains committed to ensuring that our markets are sustainable for both consumers and traders.
The Commission says they regularly conduct on the ground inspections, monitoring and ensuring regulated prices for essential goods are being complied with.
Fiji lost $4 billion in foreign exchange due to COVID in the past two years.
This was highlighted by the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during a budget consultation at FNU Samabula Campus.
Sayed-Khaiyum says government provided $500 million in livelihood support to people.
The Minister adds we have managed to come out of COVID and it is time to rebuild the economy.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the post COVID recovery has to be private sector led.
He also says if Fiji did not have measures such as the no jab no job policy then Fiji would not have had the high rates of vaccination.
Sayed-Khaiyum will deliver the National Budget on the 15th of next month.
People who have taken TELS loans from the Government, completed their graduate studies and want to go overseas to work will be given some flexibility according to Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
While speaking on the 2022/2023 National Budget plans, Sayed-Khaiyum says they are looking at flexible arrangements for those on TELS loans.
We need to perhaps adjust the terms and conditions of employment to ensure that we maintain the teachers and nurses and retain them where there's a huge demand for them from outside of Fiji.
Those are the words of Minister for Economy and Civil Service Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who says they are looking at which specific areas in the civil service they need overall in Fiji.
He adds they need to look at incentivising as they prepare for the 2022/2023 National Budget.
He also says they will look at the scarcity of skills set and the retention issues within the civil service.
The Minister says some work has already started in the Ministry of Civil Service.
Sayed-Khaiyum says in Victoria, Australia, there's a situation they have in respect of not having enough nurses which means a lot of people will be looking to poach our staff.
He also says some teachers are being recruited by New Zealand because they have a shortage of teachers.
Sayed-Khaiyum adds the budget that will be delivered will address a number of fundamental changes that are taking place globally and regionally.
More opportunities for chefs are opening up in Australia where they are offering chefs who have more than 3 years experience salaries of AUD$80,000 to AUD$120,000.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji has to be ready for this challenge as recruitment agencies are already advertising to get chefs from here.
He says there could be a shortage of chefs in Fiji.
Sayed-Khaiyum says these issues will need to be looked at urgently.
Expect the zero rated VAT items to continue and the focus continuing on roads, water and electricity as the Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announces the 2022/2023 National Budget on the 15th of July this year.
Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed today that they expect to deliver the budget at 7.30pm on 15th July.
He says the Writ of Elections has not been issued as of now, therefore the Government has to prepare the budget for the new financial year starting on 1st August 2022.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they hope to have the budget approved by the 29th of July.
He says the Writ of Elections and the date of elections is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, and he will decide on that date.
The Minister for Economy says this budget will be premised on our post-pandemic recovery.
He says given the number of medical and fiscal policy measures put in place, we were able to open borders in December, and the numbers look quite good and encouraging.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this was part of the overall plan from last year that the moment the Government has fiscal flexibility, they will be able to get FRA to do the works.
He says there is a lot of positive feedback from the people on the road works, and this is a window of opportunity as this is the dry season.
The Minister also says tourism numbers are looking good, revenue streams from that are looking buoyant and Fiji Airways is flying on good loads
He says they are also looking at other industries.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they need to invest in a clean manufacturing sub-division which has been on the cards for some time. FNPF and other development partners are talking about it with the Government as some countries in the region want manufacturing closer to home.
For the Business Process Outsourcing sector, Sayed-Khaiyum says they have had discussions with a fairly large company that is very keen to enter the Fijian market.
The 2022/2023 National Budget will be delivered on the 15th of July this year.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Writ of Elections has not been issued as of now, therefore the Government has to prepare the budget for the new financial year starting on 1st August 2022.
Sayed-Khaiyum says they hope to have the budget approved by the 29th of July.
He says the Writ of Elections and the date of elections is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, and he will decide on that date.
The Minister for Economy says this budget will be premised on our post-pandemic recovery.
He says given the number of medical and fiscal policy measures put in place, we were able to open borders in December, and the numbers look quite good and encouraging.
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