Chaudhry questions data levy

FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: FT FILE

THE Economy Minister is resorting to extraordinary measures to raise revenue for a cash-strapped government, claims Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

He made this claims after Parliament fast-tracked the Telecommunications Amendment Bill on Thursday.

The Bill has outlined that telecommunication service providers will have to pay a 10 cents levy to Government for every gigabyte of data used by their customers.

Mr Chaudhry claimed that a new taxation measure should have been provided for in the national budget.

“What was so urgent that the minister had to flout well-established procedures to rush this Bill through Parliament?” he asked.

“Is this not an indication of a broke government and a stagnant economy?”

Mr Chaudhry queried the additional levy on the telecommunications companies.

“These corporate entities are already paying taxes and dividends — in the case of government-owned companies. Government is double-dipping through this new tax measure.”

He said there was no accountability on how funds raised from those levies would be administered.

“We have several other levies — the Road User Levy, the Plastic Bag levy, the Environment Levy. Are they being used for the purpose generated or are they just going into the general revenue and used for government expenses?

“No separate account has ever been presented in Parliament to show how the trust funds were used.

“In the end, it is the consumer that will bear the brunt of the 10c per gigabyte levy because internet operators will just pass it on to their customers. Just one more imposition on people already struggling with high costs of living.”

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