COVID-19 relief measures expected in budget announcement
July 16, 2021 5:49 am
Social assistance programmes in the form of food ration deliveries are likely to continue.
The Minister for Economy is likely to lay out government’s plan to deal with the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 in the 2021/2022 budget.
This will be the third budget presented in parliament since Fiji recorded its first case of Coronavirus in March last year.
A COVID-19 Response Budget was passed in the same month.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has previously indicated that social assistance programmes will continue for the most vulnerable and those facing financial hardships.
This will likely take the form of continued cash assistance, food ration deliveries, and other programmes targeted directly at affected communities and families.
Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum
The Economy Minister has also stated that throughout the pandemic, the government has maintained its record of proper planning and sustainability to get Fiji through tough times.
Given that the Fijian economy has been in a slump since mid-2019, many will be looking to see how the government will generate revenue for the new financial year.
The government’s total revenue collection from August last year to May this year was $1.5 billion, while total expenditure amounted to $2.5 billion.
This resulted in a net deficit of $1.05 billion or 10.7 percent of GDP.
Over the last few months, bilateral partners such as Australia and New Zealand have provided direct budget support which has helped run social assistance programmes.
Fiji has also taken out additional loans for COVID-19 crisis response and Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation.
The business sector will be particularly interested in policies that will support enterprises get back on their feet and begin a move towards normalcy.
The Health Ministry is likely to receive a large chunk of government funding to continue its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 over the next 12 months.
Other government agencies such as the Fiji Police Force and the military which play a crucial support role in the national COVID-19 response may also see proportionate financing.
It will also be interesting to see what plans the government has for the tourism industry which remains at a stand-still.
The 2021/2022 National Budget announcement will be carried live on FBCTV beginning at 7 tonight.