Mini Budget 2022

It is not an election budget clarifies AG

March 26, 2022 6:55 am

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [Source: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has hit out at Opposition MPs for labelling the 2021-2022 revised national budget as an election budget.

In his right of reply, Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that none of the government members or he himself mentioned election while delivering the budget statement.

The Opposition MPs have voiced their opposition saying it was unnecessary to deliver a revised budget.

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“Not once. Yet the entire reaction from that side was, Oh! It’s an election budget. Immediately when we announced the VAT reaction – they say Oh! Its election. A few months ago they were talking about reduction, they did not say election. When we make an announcement, they say it’s an election”.

Sayed-Khaiyum also says the government has received enormous feedback from the public on the announcements made in the budget, saying they are appreciative of the changes that have been made.

However, he says the Opposition did not make a single constructive contribution during the budget debate.

“They want to win office purely to acquire power, not to improve the lives of people, not to improve the systems, not to ensure long term economic longevity and stability and confidence building. They don’t want that”.

He adds the FijiFirst government has been critically involved and determined to make structural changes within the economy to unlock the Fijian potential.

But, Sayed-Khaiyum says the solutions provided by the Opposition does not unlock any potential

“They have pontificated, they have used ethnicity, they have used land, they have used GCC – all of the previous governments have done that, yet not a single shred of thinking outside the box has taken place”.

Some of the Opposition MPs have argued that they made suggestions earlier to remove fuel tax and VAT from basic food items, but were ignored by the government.

However, Sayed-Khaiyum explains the government cannot reduce the duty on fuel overnight without having another revenue source.

He states they took a robust and transparent manner in ensuring that the government has the right amount of revenue and an expenditure that can be controlled.

“It sucked out $56m from the revenue stream. So how will that $56m be made of? Where will they get it from? The VAT, 21 items $163m reduction in revenue direct just like that off the book. How will that be made of? They did not suggest we increase VAT on other items, which we have done. It is what we call responsible government”.

The Minister for Economy says government will also set up a productivity commission that will oversee the need to increase national productivity.