Government presented its highest budget ever of $2.07billion at the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority complex yesterday.
With the theme "Empowered Fijians and a Modern Economy", Prime Minister and Finance Minister Commodore Voreqe revealed a 2012 strategy that would empower Fijians, modernise the nation and strengthen the economy.
The government's operating expenditure increased from $1.39billion to $1.46b. Capital works will total $554million, compared to $517m this year.
But permanent secretary of Finance, Filimone Waqabaca defended his budget, in particular the increasing operating costs, saying they were able to bring the operating expenses-capital expenses ration to about 72 per cent to 28 per cent.
By 2014, he said, they would like to achieve the worldwide accepted mix of 70 per cent operating and 30 per cent capital expenses.
Government revenue is expected at $1.9billion, of which $1.7b will come from direct and indirect taxes.
While there have been reductions in tax rates, the government has been able to balance this by introducing high duties for certain items, a Service Turnover Tax (formerly Hotel Turnover Tax), a telecommunication levy.
A 2 per cent levy will also apply to outstanding balances on credit cards.
The budget deficit (net) is about $135m, which is about 1.9 per cent of the GDP. Last year's deficit was 3.5 per cent of the GDP