The seven-year concession on corporate tax for the bottled water industry is to encourage new players who wish to enter the industry in Tailevu, Ra and Ba, and existing operators who wish to expand operations.
Those are the words of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka as he says it is unfortunate that certain politicians are manipulating information for political gain.
He says it is important that people should check their facts before making wild allegations.
The Prime Minister clarified that tax arrangements for the water bottling industry which were announced in the Budget is a commitment made in the People’s Alliance manifesto which clearly states the intent that Government will “review the current water legislation to revitalise the bottled water industry”.
Rabuka says in addition, in Chapter 5 of the PA manifesto “Public Finance”, the party undertook to “reform the current taxation system to ensure compliance using the existing and new Information Technology systems; and improving the current system to make it simpler and more transparent.”
He says he also made it clear in his State of the Nation Address, that the revenue policy reforms will be guided by principles of fairness, simplicity and revenue-adequacy.
The Prime Minister says therefore, all the announcements in the Budget 2023-2024 are consistent with his commitments as outlined in the 2022 manifesto.
Rabuka says he has taken a keen interest and keeps tabs on the water industry since he opened the bottling plant in Yaqara in 1996 during his first term as Prime Minister. He says he has always been interested in their success as they bring great benefits to Fiji, and continue to do for the communities of Ra, the workers, and the country as a whole.
Rabuka says in addition, a number of investors came to his office expressing their interest in entering the bottled water industry in Fiji – including in Tailevu, Ra and Ba.
He says in their discussions with officials at the Prime Minister’s Office, these investors stated that Fiji needed a transparent, fair and equitable tax regime rather than one that penalized some and favoured other investors.
He says he had the opportunity to meet the owners of Fiji Water and other investors on his return from the Ocean’s Summit in Panama earlier this year.
Rabuka says their discussion with the owners of Fiji Water centred around improving logistic arrangements for transportation of their product to Lautoka wharf, options for renewable energy given the factory is not connected to the EFL grid, possible investment in other key sectors where they have a comparative advantage, and a transparent and fair tax system for the water bottling industry.
The Prime Minister says the revenue measures in the 2023/2024 Budget for the water bottling industry i.e. the water resource tax has increased to 19.5 cents per litre (an increase of 1.5c per litre) means that the company will pay more in taxes to the Fiji Revenue Customs Service.
He says contrary to claims, the Fiji Water company is not exempted from paying taxes in Fiji under the 2023/2024 Budget revenue measures.
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