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Which policies matter

November 5, 2018 6:38 pm

With only eight days left for the General Election – political parties are going the extra mile to pitch their policies to ordinary Fijians in the hope of securing some votes to form the next government.

Hot on the agenda are promises to make life easier.

FBC News looks at the affordability of the promises and analyses the reality versus the theory behind the possibility of more savings.

The National Federation Party has created quite a big stir with promises of making twenty-three items VAT free or zero-rated.

So we’ve done the math – and what this means for an average family of five in a week.

They would need two kilos of rice and flour, cooking oil, two cans of fish, tea, milk, butter, some noodles, 2 kilos of potatoes, a kilo of onions, some garlic, 3 cans of tuna, a dozen eggs, five loaves of bread and two number 17 chickens.

At the cheapest advertised prices on the current flat vat rate of 9 % this family would spend $71.64. If the NFP had its way, this family would only save only $6.01. Bus fares alone for the family if both parents worked would be much more.

Al though the saving is small for this family, FijiFirst says the zero rating of 23 items by the NFP will accumulate into a massive vat loss for the government of around $300-million.

FijiFirst says this will result in reduced revenue meaning the government will have much less to spend on current social wages such as free education, free bus fares, subsidised water and electricity and social welfare benefits.

It says the government will also have less to spend on crucial infrastructure development such as roads, bridges, and new utility connections.

FijiFirst also claims that NFP will have to lower the tax threshold and tax more people in order to make the shortfall for its promises.

Fijians earning up to $30-thousand per annum currently pay zero tax.

FijiFirst says the Fijian public is better off with the current government because prior to their policies an average Fijian residing in Suva – spent $15 on bus fare from Nasinu to the city, $60 for school fees a term, water bill at $15 for three months and $50 a month for electricity – a total of $140.

After the FijiFirst government subsidies on these – the same person now pays $55.50 saving $84.50 a month or $21 a week.

The next week will definitely be a battle for hearts and minds as all political parties try and convince the electorate about the benefits of their own policies.