7 July, 2017, 12:00 am
After the release of the budget on Thursday, June 29, we all can see a mixed reaction from the general public.
Some are happy while some have their own reasons to worry about. I believe no budget can please everyone but I do have my freedom to express my opinion.
I believe that about 20 per cent of our population in Fiji may fall in the “elite” group whereby they can easily afford to visit hotels and restaurants a few times a week.
They may have the luxury of owning more than one car or property.
I also believe that 40 per cent fall in the middle group, where they are comfortable with whatever they earn. With careful planning this group can also save some for their rainy days.
Now the other 40 per cent in the bottom lot are the main victims of this budget. Just imagine earning $2.68 per hour or $107.20 per week (five days) can never suffice for a family of five.
The only solution here I believe was to get rid of VAT on the basic food items only. These food items could include flour, rice, dhal, sugar, oil, onions, potatoes, tinned fish, tea, milk, bread, breakfast biscuits, cereals etc.
I also believe that whatever Government would have lost by removing the VAT here could have been easily recovered by reducing certain percentage of the military and FRA allocations.
Somehow I also get a feeling the military will not mind to see a bit of reduction in their budget for the sake of the poor.
For months we have seen and heard the people’s cry that cost of living is very high in our country and everyone looked forward for some relief.
Even one of our economists, Dr Neelesh Goundar, in his contribution said “there were no major policy changes to reduce the cost of living which was recently highlighted in the Tebbutt-Times poll as a major issue facing households (F/T 01/07)”.
I still have a feeling that despite the release of this budget, Government may find some means to cater for this poor and unfortunate group.