‘Budget has measures’

THE Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) says on the upside, the 2019-2020 National Budget has measures that should improve the ease of doing business and increase efficiency, financial control and discipline in the management of the Fijian economy.

FHTA president Dixon Seeto said the continued investment into infrastructure development was also a huge boost to tourism — a sector which accounted for 40 per cent of GDP and employed one in three people in Fiji.

“We understand that Government, given the global downturn, needs to address the potential risk to the economy and as a result of that it has come up with a budget that is $1 billion less than last year,” he said.

“It is good to see initiatives that should bring about a much improved ease of doing business and also measures that should propel Fiji into the electronic age in terms of the digitisation of processes.

“This should make it easier in terms of lodging applications, monitoring how the application is progressing and also make it easy to search for information.”

Mr Seeto said while the reduction in duty for the import of fittings and furniture to assist in the renovation or construction of tourism properties was lauded, he was concerned about the possible implications on local manufacturers.

In terms of taxation, he said the widening of the Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy was good for Fiji but the continued impact on tourism was a concern.

“Also in some of the incentives and measures that we had requested in our budget submission to develop the industry as part of move to make Fiji competitive have not eventuated.

“We had requested a reduction in Special Turnover Tax, ECAL and departure tax which is amongst the highest in the world.

“When you add all these taxes, it makes Fiji’s pricing less competitive when compared to similar holiday destinations. Reducing the taxes would have reduced the cost of holidays in Fiji.”

Mr Seeto added that the reduction in Tourism Fiji’s budget to $40.24 million, down $5.3m from the $45.5m given last financial year, would have an impact on the national tourism office.

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