Prof. Prasad rejects Usamate’s concerns regarding price hikes and unchanging income

Prof. Prasad rejects Usamate’s concerns regarding price hikes and unchanging income

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 21/04/2024
Deputy PM and Finance Minister, Prof. Biman Prasad and Opposition MP, Jone Usamate.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says prices of some food items have gone down and employment and income in the formal wage sector has increased however, Opposition MP Jone Usamate says the prices of everything has gone up and people’s income has not gone up and more hardship has been created for them.

In his end of the week statement in parliament, Usamate says when people were being hit by imported inflation, the government decided to increase VAT and made things worse right across the country.

He says the government needs to start asking what they need to do and they are thankful to the government for all the assistance to the social wages.

Usamate says he also welcomes the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into the pricing practice of the supermarkets industry from the 1st of May but this should have happened a long time ago.

While responding to this, Professor Biman Prasad says Usamate is fast earning the title of Mr. Hogwash which means nonsense and designed to deceive the people.

Professor Prasad says the Opposition tells the people that prices have increased is simply because of VAT but that is a complete lie.

He further says he has received a brief from FCCC and contrary to what Usamate said, the prices of edible oil, butter, liquid milk, powdered milk, baby milk, canned fish, corned meat, salt, margarine, tea leaves, potatoes, onions and garlic have gone down.

The Deputy Prime Minister says in some cases, even with zero percent VAT on basic food items, the prices still went up because of very high freight costs.

Professor Prasad says whatever additional revenue they got, they have increased social protection payments.

He says the important thing for them as a Parliament is to find ways to increase the income and put more money into the pockets of the people.

He says as a result of shortage of labour, formal sector employment has not only increased but the wages in the formal sector has also increased by about 10 to 12 percent.

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