NFP calls for FCCC chief executive to step down

Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission CEO Joel Abraham. Picture: FT FILE

THE National Federation Party (NFP) has called for the resignation of Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) chief executive officer Joel Abraham for comments he made in an interview with a local media organisation.

NFP leader Prof Biman Prasad claimed that during the interview, Mr Abraham said political party candidates holding pocket meetings were lying about reducing the cost of living.

Prof Prasad said that while Mr Abraham did not name the candidates or the party, Mr Abraham was obviously referring to NFP because it was the only party that had publicly announced it would reduce the cost of living by removing VAT from 15 basic food items and duty on essential goods.

Prof Prasad questioned the neutrality and independence of the FCCC and claimed that it should have remained apolitical and completely refrain from making political comments.

He said Mr Abraham was paid by the taxpayers through government funds allocated to FCCC.

“Instead of telling the people why the FCCC is unable to reduce inflation by ensuring there are lower prices for basic food items, he is twisting their queries and attacking us.”

In response, Mr Abraham said he responded to queries from the public and offered his analysis to ensure consumers had complete and accurate information when operating in the marketplace.

“It’s the job of the FCCC to find measured, market-based solutions to protect Fijian consumers and create competition to bring down prices; to do so we are guided by the facts, not by politics,” Mr Abraham said.

Mr Abraham said he completely stood by his response to a concerned member of the public when he said it would take a magical formula to immediately reduce the cost of all food products in Fiji by 20 per cent.

“Following that response, I was very surprised to see a statement from the National Federation Party (NFP) attacking me and the FCCC, given I never once mentioned any political party.

“I was even more surprised to see the statement reference, the NFP’s political agenda relating to VAT and duty concessions, given I never mentioned either in my response. Besides, it only takes a basic knowledge of market economics to understand that VAT and duty concessions alone cannot possibly affect a 20 per cent decrease in all food prices,” he said.

“While the NFP is free to find ways to educate the public on their political agenda, baseless attacks against the FCCC are not the way to do it.

“I strongly urge them to adopt the same commitments to integrity and to honest and transparent communication with the public that we proudly uphold at the FCCC,” he added.

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