Council welcomes 2013 Budget: Low income consumers to benefit

22/11/2012 10:24

The Council welcomes Government’s emphasis in the 2013 Budget on social protection where low-income earners and pensioners will have some gains.

Low income consumers earning up to $16,000, including Government wage earners and unestablished staff are bound to benefit from the 2013 National Budget putting more money in their pockets.

Those consumers earning $16,000 are exempted from paying taxes. The 2013 Budget has also guaranteed the wages of Government established staff to $10,000 per annum and current unestablished staff will get a pay rise of 10%. This will certainly ease the burden on consumers who are facing difficulties with the high cost of living.

Also for the first time in Fiji’s history 70 year-olds and above will receive pensions.

Generally consumers will benefit from a 5% reduction in electricity tariffs for 2013. Consumers have suffered a lot from the tariff realignments in 2010 and imposition of additional security deposit in 2011. The reduction of the electricity tariff will certainly bring about relief to consumers. However, Consumers will have to pay 2cents more for diesel and motor spirits in 2013 as Green Tax. However, the Council is relieved that this will not affect the bus industry which is the main means of transport for the majority of consumers.

The Council is also happy with the further reduction in duty for imported vegetables which will make these affordable to consumers who are health conscious.

While these initiatives are very positive for consumers, the Council is urging businesses to respond accordingly by reducing the retail prices of these goods. Council’s research and market surveillance have found that retail prices do not necessarily decrease as expected when duty and other taxes are reduced.

The Council supports the call made by the PM for traders to pass on the decrease in duty to consumers through lower retail prices and not to engage in unfair trade practices. Businesses should not be pocketing the gains from the duty reduction.