2019-2020 budget –A step forward

10/06/2019 09:13

The Consumer Council of Fiji views the 2019 – 2020 Budget to be futuristic, practical and economically sustainable. It not only provides stable present but also secures stable future for all Fijians.

As announced by the Honourable Minister for Justice, Economy, Civil Service, Communication and Public Enterprise, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum various reforms and policy changes are heavily focused towards changing the quality of the ordinary Fijians livelihood.

The good news is that the government has maintained Value Added Tax and the Income Tax threshold ensuring that consumers purchasing power remains the same. Furthermore ordinary consumers will continue to enjoy the benefits of free government schemes, while the introduction of subsidised bus fares for parents and guardians who travel with their disabled children to school, will further assist the needy.

The reduction of fiscal duty on batteries for laptops, tablets, cellular mobile phones and power banks (32 per cent to 5 per cent) and also on new ready-made clothing for children (32 per cent to 5 per cent) will make these products more affordable for consumers.

Clear reflection of government’s commitment to consumer protection can be seen in this budget. A reduction in fiscal and import excise duty on new buses and reduction in fiscal duty on used buses will allow bus companies to improve their fleets. Additionally, government’s decision to draft new laws to improve standards of service by inter-island shipping companies will ensure that they are held accountable for any unscrupulous practice. These changes will in turn ensure consumers are provided a more comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly public transport experience.

It is worth noting the Government’s intention to expeditiously increase the supply of affordable housing in Fiji. The Government has already given assistance to first home buyers through the First Home Owners grant and this commitment, coupled with the incentives for affordable housing for multi-storey developments will greatly increase accessibility of affordable housing. The initiative by the Ministry of Housing and Community Development to work closely with the Reserve Bank of Fiji and other financial institutions to give homeowners the opportunity to finance the purchase or construction of new homes at discounted interest rates is also welcomed.

The announcement of the ban in high density plastic bags and the increase in price of low-density polythene plastic bags from 20 cents to 50 cents from 1st January 2020 is encouraging.

The Council warns traders not to charge the new levy before the 1st of January 2020.

Overall the 2019-2020 budget is forward looking and will definitely promote socio-economic development and bring prosperity to the Fijians.