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Giving away tax does not help the poor: Prof Biman Prasad

July 11, 2017 1:17 am

Opposition Member of Parliament and National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad has criticized the increase in the tax threshold as announced in the 2017/2018 National Budget last week.

While giving his response to the budget in parliament this morning, Prasad says it is ridiculous to give away tax to people who can afford to pay it.

The tax threshold has been increased from $16,000 to $30,000 and the government explains this will improve disposable income and the living standards of low income earners.

However Prof. Biman Prasad says this benefit is useless as majority of Fijians fall below the poverty line earning $2.68 per hour or less than $6,300 per year.

”Once again, the government is not thinking clearly. It’s all politics-driven panic, and the only solutions they have are to just give away more tax. Giving away tax does not help the poor. You can still help people earning below $30,000 by giving them a tax rebate.”

As for the 14.3 percent average pay rise for civil servants announcement made by the Government, the Opposition MP says this is unjustifiable as he claims teachers are now being asked to work additional days.

He also pointed out on the memorandum from the Ministry of Education which states teachers need to sign a contract to qualify for the pay rise.

”Teachers whose employment is permanent will not get the pay rise if they do not sign the contract. This is blackmail. It is holding a civil servant to ransom.”

Professor Prasad further adds that the cost of living remains a concern for Fijians saying incomes have not increased, particularly for the poorest people in the country and this is something the NFP will work on, should they get elected into parliament next year.