Parliament debates budget forecast

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at parliament during the morning tea break Picture: RAMA/FILE

LIQUIDITY stood at $551 million as of last week, the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Economy Minister told Parliament on Monday.

According to latest figures released by the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said as of last week foreign reserves were $2.1billion while the inflation rate was 0.7 per cent.

He highlighted the issue while Parliament debated the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service annual report 2016-2017.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Government was working with the New Zealand tax office in reviewing Fiji’s Customs laws.

He said the gross domestic product would not be affected.

National Federation Party Opposition MP Professor Biman Prasad said the Government had, in the 2018-2019 National Budget, forecasted income to be over $4.236bn.

“The budget handed down in this Parliament saw that forecast being reduced by one billion dollars to $3.2bn,” Prof Prasad said.

“We have been reliably informed that on the last day of the last financial year ending 31st July, FRCS officers admitted they were under severe pressure to collect over $90m in revenue to meet the shortfall of the even significantly reduced target of $3.2b.”

Outspoken SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula said the Government should “stop lying” to Fijians and it was about time they admitted that the economy was facing a crisis.

“The economy is in a crisis and they should tell the country the truth because Government is broke.

“They are talking about an increase in our economy, but we are not feeling it because a huge number of people are getting laid off from their jobs,” Mr Nawaikula said.

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