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Fiji Time: 5:44 AM on Friday 25 July

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People focus

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, November 26, 2012

THERE are many goodies for people in the 2013 National Budget.

It has a major focus on social protection, poverty alleviation, better roads, water purification and skills development.

Apart from these, some other major areas are affordable housing, a raise in the tax threshold which means better take home pay, improved education and health services.

Not to forget, the price of electricity will also reduce by five cents a unit across all tariff bands from January 1, 2013.

The Consumer Council of Fiji believes it is a budget that focuses on how people of this country become self-sufficient and come out of the poverty line.

"Another good thing is that pension will be given to those 70 years and above who have no source of income or pension or who haven't been in any superannuation scheme," said council's chief executive officer Premila Kumar.

"This is the first time that government has given pension to people in that age group and it will bring self-esteem in the pensioners," Mrs Kumar said.

"They won't have to stretch their hand out in front of others for money for some small things they may want to buy or for other needs.

"For all consumers, the good news is the five cents a unit reduction in electricity charges as they will be able to save money," she said.

Mrs Kumar said gains were more in the social welfare protection scheme.

She said low-income earners would also take home a better pay packet because of the raise in the tax threshold to $16,000.

"When you look at the 2012 Budget, it focused on a certain group of workers and areas.

"But in this budget, consumers will have surplus and this is where prudential management of funds comes in.

"It doesn't mean that if you take home more pay, that you should do reckless spending.

"Most consumers don't save, they take loans to keep things rolling and are doing the hand-to-mouth thing now.

"With this 2013 Budget focusing on people, consumers should start saving now and you can only do that if you manage your money well," said Mrs Kumar.

In concluding the 2013 Budget address last Thursday, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said, "it is a budget that improves the lot of all Fijians."


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