COVID-19 Response Budget

COVID-19 Response Budget

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has tabled the Supplementary Budget with a $1 billion COVID-19 stimulus package.



Relief for affected workers coming through FNPF or the government

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says from today, once the budget gets passed, Fijian workers in the hospitality sector who have lost their jobs or have reduced hours since 1st February 2020, can, for now, access an initial $1,000 from the FNPF if they have the funds in their account.

Sayed-Khaiyum says if they do not have that amount, the government will subsidise the difference.

All those employees affected by the nationwide physical distancing requirements, along with employees in the Lautoka confined area who have been placed on leave without pay or had their hours cut, will be able to access an initial $500 dollars from FNPF.

If they do not have enough funds the government will subsidise the amount.

Fijians in the informal sector who are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 will be paid a one-off sum of $1,000.

Furthermore, for those affected in the informal sector in the lockdown areas, the government will also be providing a one-off relief payment of $150 for all those who have a street trader or hawker license.

The Minister says all FNPF employees contributions will reduce from 8% to 5%.

This will be from 1st April to 31st December 2020.

This is expected to put $80 million in the pockets of employees.

Employers’ FNPF contributions will reduce from 10% to 5% from 1st April to 31st December.

Sayed-Khaiyum says over the next nine months, this will keep $130 million in their accounts.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




Relief for loan and hire purchase payments for those who have lost jobs and are on reduced hours

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there will be deferred loan repayments for six months for any Fijian who has lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.

Mortgages, personal loans and even hire purchase payment plans from stores like Courts, Carpenters and others all qualify.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Tertiary Loans

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

For students repaying Tertiary Education Loans, all repayments will be suspended until 31st December 2020, providing these working Fijians around $10 million dollars in immediate relief.




20% pay-cut for all MPs for the next 6 months

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has announced a pay cut of 20% for the Prime Minister, Ministers and parliamentarians for the next 6 months.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this shows they are leading by example.

This will total $400,000.

He also says, for the time being, they won’t be mandating salary cuts across the civil service, nor their statutory bodies or government-owned companies.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf



Government will pay 21 days Sick Leave for people earning less than $30,000 if they test positive for COVID-19

By Vijay Narayan, Naveel Krishant
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government will pay 21 days Sick Leave for people earning less than $30,000 if they test positive with COVID-19.

A 300% tax deduction will also be allowed to employers for wages/ salary paid to employees who are self-quarantined and approved by Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Water and Electricity

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

Energy Fiji Limited will now fully match the government’s existing 50% subsidy on the first 100 units of electricity for all of its subsidised customers.

This is for the households earning less than $30,000 annually.

Through July 2020, the Water Authority of Fiji has agreed to cart water to any area in Fiji impacted by water cuts regardless of expected repair time at a cost of $4.25 million, and suspend all disconnections until 31st December 2020, forgoing $28.4 million in revenue.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Health and COVID-19 Response

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has also announced a $40 million top-up for the Health Ministry.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this is for more masks, ventilators, set up fever clinics, fund vital awareness campaigns and also fund emergency COVID-19 plans.

To ensure the medical sector has the specific, technical tools it needs to combat the COVID-19 crisis, the government will introduce a VAT exemption on imports for a vast range of medical supplies and equipment, effective immediately.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they are adding the $40 million to enhance the health system’s capacity to respond to this pandemic on top of the $347.5 million allocated to the health sector in this financial year.




COVID-19 Response Budget: Fuel duty to increase by 20 cents per litre

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020
Minsiter of Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The Minister of Economy has announced that the government will be raising revenue by increasing the fiscal duty by 20 cents per litre for fuel.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says thanks to a dramatic reduction in the price of fuel, Fijians will still pay lower rates of fuel than they do today.




COVID-19 Response Budget: Elderly Travel Allowance Reduced and to be reviewed in 3 months

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

The Travel Allowance for the elderly reduced from $40 to $20 per month.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the government expects the younger people in the family to assist in doing errands for the elderly following this reduction.

This reduction will be reviewed in three months.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Tax and duty changes

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

To assist the medical sector during the COVID-19 crisis, importation of the following items will be exempt from Import VAT:

-Hand sanitizers and antibacterial hand wash

-Gloves -Masks -Disposable hair nets -Disinfectant wipes

-Tissue papers

-Face shield

-Medical goggles and spectacles (used in the lab and medical facilities)

-Protective plastic garments for surgical and medical use

-Protective garments of textiles or rubberised textiles

-Long sleeve medical gowns

-Scanners and cameras used in medical examination

-Ethanol for companies involved in hand sanitizer production

-Disinfectants Vaccinations and Medicaments of Chapter 30 of the Customs Tariff

-Air purifier

-Boots &ndash specifically used in medical environment

-Hospital beds

-Hydrogen peroxide

-Paper bed sheets

-Thermometers and Medical equipment under Chapter 90 of the Customs Tariff.

Duty has also been zero-rated for most of these medical items to give relief to those people even buying items like hand sanitizers, masks and disinfectants.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: More Initiatives

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

To offer serious mortgage relief for homeowners, the government will also be reducing stamp duty rates for Fiji resident taxpayers for mortgages from 1.7% to 0%.

Foreign nationals will see their mortgages’ stamp duty reduced from 5% to 0%.

A 100% write-off will also be granted for the construction of new commercial and industrial buildings, provided the appropriate approvals are obtained before the end of the calendar year.

A 100% write-off of up to $10,000 will be made available on the purchase of fixed assets for business purposes.

And to continue to build an inclusive economy through these tough times, deductions for businesses employing Fijians living with disabilities for three consecutive years will increase from 300% to 400%.

The tax deduction that businesses can claim on their first full-time employee will increase from 200% to 300%.

The tax deduction on wages paid for applicable student apprenticeships will also be increased to 300%.

A 300% tax deduction will also be offered for any donations that businesses make to the government’s COVID-19 donor fund, a trust to be utilised for any coronavirus assistance, from medical supplies to economic relief.

The Minister for Economy has also announced that tax deduction for business rental.

Landlords can reduce rent for business from $1,000 to $500 and the $500 being lost can be claimed and the government will carry the burden.

The VAT Monitoring System implementation will be deferred.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Education

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 26/03/2020

The government will add another $20 million to the education budget to cater mainly for teachers’ salaries now that the total number of teachers working in the country has been consolidated.



COVID-19 Response Budget: Audio Visual Industry

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

Processing of new provisional applications for the Film Tax Rebate as well as pending payments will be suspended until further notice.

The provisions under the Income Tax (Film-Making and Audio Visual incentive) Regulations remain unchanged.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




COVID-19 Response Budget: Donor Fund Set Up

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

Sayed-Khaiyum says a COVID-19 Donor Fund has been set up. New Zealand has pledged $3 million and Australia has pledged a total of AUD $12 million.

In the wake of COVID-19, the government has had positive discussions with the Asian Development Bank to top up its previously-pledged funding of US$100 million by up to US$100 million more.

The World Bank is also offering Fiji US$5.5 million dollars from its COVID-19 facility.




COVID-19 Response Budget: Sugar

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

$50 million has been allocated to the Fiji Sugar Corporation for Cane Delivery Payment.

The government is in the process of acquiring FNPF and FHL’s shares in the FSC to meet the legal requirements to convert the government's debt in FSC into equity.

Fiji Rice Limited has already confirmed they will inject $1 million dollars into a rice planting scheme.

There will also be an additional $1 million allocation towards the Ministry of Agriculture to bolster Fiji’s food security.



Tax collections projected to be $1 billion lower than expected

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

Overall tax collections are projected at $2.022 billion for the 2019-2020 financial year.

This is expected to be lower than the original budget by $1.058 billion, a decline of 34.4%.

Compared to the collections in the 2018-2019 financial year, tax revenue will be $797.7 million lower which is a 28.3% decline.

Major reductions are expected from VAT collections, income taxes and customs revenue.

Over $3 billion was forecast in total VAT collections in the current financial year however due to the slowdown in the economy and VAT exemptions for medical supplies, the forecast for total VAT collections in the revised budget is just over $1.9 billion.

Dividends from state-owned enterprises are expected to decrease together with lower collections from various fees, fines and charges.

This decline is compensated by the one-off $206.1 million divestment proceeds from Energy Fiji Limited.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf



More borrowings than expected but the government says it is necessary in response to COVID-19

By Semi Turaga, Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020

A total of $3.536 billion has been allocated in the COVID-19 Response Budget.

The Ministry of Economy says the revised total expenditure takes into account the current spending trend, reprioritisation of capital expenditures, anticipated operational savings and new COVID-19 related allocations.

Based on projected total revenue of $2.507 billion, the net deficit stands at $1.028 billion for the COVID-19 Response Budget, equivalent to 9.0% of GDP. The deficit will be financed through both domestic and external borrowings from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

By July this year, the government’s domestic debt is expected to total $4.992 billion while external debt is expected to total $1.996 billion. This will take the total debt to $6.988 billion.

The Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says, of course, they have to borrow more because of the new expenditures and the depletion in government revenue.

He says they could have very easily done a 10% salary cut for civil servants and statutory organisations and would have saved 120 million dollars or more instead of going out to borrow another 100 million dollars.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the fact of the matter is they need to keep the economy moving and they obviously have to re-finance.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf




Urgent COVID-19 Response Needed

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020
Minister for Economy

Minister for Economy and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says under the crushing weight of this pandemic, our economy is projected to contract by 4.3% this year, an optimistic projection that depends entirely on the success of Fiji and our major source markets in combating the virus.

He says COVID-19 has been present in Fiji for 1 week and the government will have no choice but to lock down Fiji if people do not follow the measures taken to contain the disease.

Sayed-Khaiyum has called on parliament to pass this budget with consensus today to assist the affected Fijians.

The Minister for Economy says Fiji can come back from this crisis better and smarter.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this virus will reshape our society and we must embrace this new reality

He says some people are blind to what is happening and the huge effects of COVID-19.

While delivering the Supplementary Budget in Parliament, Sayed-Khaiyum says this virus has paralyzed the world.

The Minister says this would be the most severe depression of our time.

Sayed-Khaiyum says for Fiji, the effects will be far worse than Cyclones Winston, Josie, Tino and Keni combined and even more.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf



Dr Waqainabete stresses to Nawaikula to stop lying to people, the govt did not bring COVID-19 to Fiji

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 27/03/2020
Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete [L-R] and SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula

Health Minister Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete has stressed to SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula to stop lying to people and made it clear that the government did not bring COVID-19 to Fiji.

This is after Nawaikula repeatedly said that the government brought the virus to the country by neglect.

Infrastructure Minister Jone Usamate says the government did not bring COVID-19 to Fiji.

He told Nawaikula to stop spreading fake news.

COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS
http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf



COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ESTIMATE 2019-2020

http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ESTIMATE-2019-2020.pdf

ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE SUPPLEMENT TO THE COVID-19 RESPONSE BUDGET ADDRESS

http://www.parliament.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf

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