2018 General Election: Government response to minimum wage is nonsense, says NFP

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad says seeking an increase of a minimum wage of $5 an hour was not playing politics but an attempt to enhance the livelihood of our ordinary people. Picture: FT FILE

THE National Federation Party says comments made by Government that the party’s $5 an hour minimum wage will cost the nation $700million was “nonsense”.

While addressing Savusavu residents during a FijiFirst fun day on Friday, party general secretary and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the NFP $5 plan was “stupid”, would cost Fiji $700 million and questioned how the initiative would be funded.

“He has just pulled those figures ($700m) from the air,” said NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad.

“It will not even cost one-tenth of that.

“He asks where we will get the money from to pay for our other promises.

“He asked the same question in 2014, when VAT was 15 per cent.”

Prof Prasad said Government slashed VAT to nine per cent in 2015 after the NFP announced it would reduce VAT to 10 per cent in 2014.

“When governments decide how to spend money, they have to choose.

“FijiFirst chose to spend $50 million running around the world for COP23.

“FijiFirst chose to spend $10 million on a big Asian Development Bank international conference in a luxury hotel next year.

“FijiFirst chooses to spend $20 million a year propping up FBC, the Fiji Sun and Qorvis to pump out propaganda.

“FijiFirst chooses to spend $1.5 million a year for the Prime Minister’s travel and allowances.

“We will choose none of those things,” Prof Prasad said.

“You only have to read the Auditor-General’s report to see the wastage and abuse of Government funds.

“When I was chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I began asking hard questions.

“So FijiFirst changed the parliamentary rules. For the first time ever in Fiji, the Public Accounts Committee chair would now come from the Government.

“This is an example of why bad governance and bad finance are connected.”