A PROPOSAL by municipal councils that would force defaulting ratepayers to clear their dues is an unfair and inhumane approach, says the Consumer Council of Fiji.
The council strongly opposes the idea of denying defaulting ratepayers their right to basic amenities like water and electricity for the purpose of rate collection.
Municipal council heads met last week at the Suva City Council office and decided to submit a proposal to the government for rates to be included in the country's tax system.
Suva special administrator Chandu Umaria said they would submit to the government that essential services like water and electricity be suspended from defaulting ratepayers and restored when arrears were settled.
Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said depriving consumers of basic services and forcing them to clear debts was like holding people's lives to ransom.
"Municipal councils must realise that water and electricity are not provided to consumers by them, therefore, they are not in a position to make such suggestions," she said. "It must not be forgotten that ratepayers have families and children who cannot be put through the trauma of not having access to clean drinking water and electricity for work and study purposes."