Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry has advised civil servants that they must hold the coalition government to the promises it made during the election campaign to increase civil service pay.
He highlighted this at the Fiji Public Service Association’s annual convention in Suva celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The former FPSA general secretary who during his time had successfully steered the union through several pay disputes with the government, says he was saddened to note from the Association’s annual report, the struggle they faced in getting their grievances addressed.
He says the Association’s log of claims lodged in December 2019 had been see-sawing as the Job Evaluation Exercise dispute had been in the pipeline since 2018 and had been confronted with endless delays and stalling tactics to frustrate the process.
Chaudhry also warned the union executives that things may not be too rosy even with the new government that seemed more kindly disposed towards trade unions.
He says the coalition is now realising that promises made during the election campaign may be difficult to meet.
Chaudhry says since taking office, the coalition is talking of constraints in meeting these promises.
The Party Leader says the Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad had announced that increases in taxation are inevitable.
He says the IMF Statement issued after its Article IV Mission to Fiji, provides a grim scenario that the government must unify the VAT rate at a slightly higher level, reforms to the personal and corporate income taxes especially by reducing tax exemptions or tax thresholds, and possibly increasing tax rates and raising excise and tourism-related taxes.
Chaudhry says the coalition has been told in no uncertain terms what it has to do.
He says they know they have to engage in a belt-tightening exercise, cut expenditure and raise taxes.
He also says these recommendations are going to come from the Fiscal Review Committee and the Economic Summit to whom the Minister has outsourced this rather unpleasant task.
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