Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa says SODELPA does not support the 2017/2018 National Budget and has labelled it as an election budget.
Ro Teimumu says unprecedented level of unemployment continues to increase amongst youths in Fiji.
While speaking during the 2017/2018 National Budget debate, Ro Teimumu says it is estimated that 254,000 or 33.4% of the people are not absorbed into the labour force and are considered as under employed or unemployed.
Ro Teimumu says the pay increases for civil servants have been selective across the public sector.
She also said that the new proposed minimum wage does not address the increasing rate of poverty in Fiji.
However the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says with this budget, they have put more money into the pockets of ordinary Fijians than at any other time in our history. He says that they have done it by raising the income tax threshold from $16,000 a year to $30,000 a year.
The Prime Minister says this means more money in peoples’ pockets to spend as they choose and as they use that spending power to buy more goods and services, the positive effect multiplies.
He also says that no one would like to see the basic hourly pay rate for unskilled workers rise more than him.
Bainimarama says in the budget, they have taken it from $2.32 to $2.68 an hour.
He says the sectoral wages in other areas have also been increased.
He says raising the minimum wage too much would actually result in a loss of jobs, as well as higher inflation.
The Prime Minister says the government has also provided assistance to relieve some of the cost of living pressures on ordinary people ‑ the free schooling, increased subsidised electricity tariffs, free water, the free medicine, the subsidised bus fares and all those things that were not the current government took office.
Bainimarama also says that they are increasing the pay of civil servants because they want to make a career in government service an attractive option for a lot more gifted Fijians.
He says now that they have the base salary and the structure sorted out, going forward, pay rises will be dependent on individual performance‑based assessments.
Bainimarama stresses that non‑performance will not be tolerated.
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