Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry is just jumping the gun when Chaudhry made comments about the Fiscal Review Committee and his concern over the warning of an increase in taxes.
Professor Prasad says this is a government that is determined to address the fundamental problems within the economy including high levels of debt.
He says they will ensure that there is fiscal reconsideration and balance between fiscal consolidation and looking after the people.
The Deputy Prime Minister says Chaudhry probably has not seen the list properly and talking about the lead group.
He says the Fiscal Review Committee is a technical committee focused on expenditure policies, revenue policies, and tax policies and that the budget will be decided by the government which Chaudhry very well knows about.
Professor Prasad says Chaudhry should leave the Fiscal Committee to do its job.
He says there will also be an economic summit in which all the opposition will be invited to join, listen to the people, and take their views into account.
Prasad says to jump and say that the government is not going to look after the poor reflects his ignorance of what the role of the committee is.
Meanwhile, Chaudhry earlier expressed serious concerns at the warning from Finance Minister, Professor Biman Prasad that tax increases are “inevitable” and there will be increase in taxation after Professor Prasad announced the setting up of a 14-member Fiscal Review Committee.
Chaudhry stated that this is quite disturbing as any increase in taxes, more so an increase in VAT and Customs Duty, will hit hard the lower to middle income families as it will push up prices.
He says as things stand, the poor and low income families simply do not have the capacity to sustain any further increases in the cost of living.
Chaudhry is also critical of the composition of the committee.
The FLP Leader says it is regrettable that the membership of the Fiscal Review Committee is mostly drawn from the well off in the community.
He says he does not see the workers or the farming community - the very people who are most vulnerable to Fiji’s economic and social woes - being fairly represented.
Chaudhry says Professor Prasad says taxes have to be increased so we can reduce our debt levels and “find billions of dollars to invest in health, water, road, climate adaptation, energy and housing”.
The FLP Leader says this could mean substantial increases in both tax and non-tax revenue.
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