Key initiatives in the budget are expected to address economic shortfalls - Lockington

Key initiatives in the budget are expected to address economic shortfalls - Lockington

By Dhanjay Deo
Tuesday 20/07/2021
Chief Executive Officer Fantasha Lockington.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says key initiatives announced in the 2021/2022 National Budget are expected to address the economic shortfalls with many support programs being continued from last year and new ones being introduced for the unemployed.

Chief Executive Officer Fantasha Lockington says with the tourism industry being forced to shed approximately 60% of its 130,000 employees, the focus on income support for the unemployed is a welcome and critical feature.

She says the tourism industry alone contributed $3 billion in taxes and foreign exchange earnings in 2019 and it is clear the Fijian economy is feeling this gaping hole and the industry is keen to take advantage of what has been offered and work towards getting back to work safer.

Lockington says the industry recognized early that vaccination was the only way out of this current crisis and are encouraged to see this as one of the key focus areas of the National Budget.

She adds the focus on vaccination as a condition of employment is the biggest milestone to achieve for Fiji to get its largest industry back to work under safer work conditions.

Lockington says they also welcome the retention of tax reforms that were introduced last year that the industry has not been able to take advantage of to a larger extent because of closed borders.

Lockington says the association also welcomes the inclusion this year of other business support measures where fees and charges for licensing and compliance is either being waived or will be paid for by Government through its COVID-19 recovery credit guarantee scheme. $200 million has been made available for micro, small and medium enterprises to meet their operational needs, including payment of wages and salaries, rental cost, utility bills, purchase of stocks and other working capital requirements.

She says the Association will support members to access this scheme.

Lockington further says as Fiji prepares for borders to reopen later this year once the 80% adult population vaccination requirement is reached, businesses that have been closed for over 12 months, or operating intermittently at a fraction of their size need to prudently manage what their reopening will look like.

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