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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 7, 1998 - Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's Finance Minister, Jim Ah Koy, yesterday announced a F$ 935 million budget - hailed as the people's budget - for next year, the Daily Post reports.

(NOTE: US$ ! = F$ 1.9531 on November 9, 1998)

(Much) of that money, $80.1 million, will go towards health improvement with infrastructure being allocated $54.5 million.

Other features of the budget include:

On income tax, Mr. Ah Koy has increased the income tax threshold from $5,000 to $6,500, a move that would exempt 54 percent of all prospective taxpayers in Fiji from paying tax.

Although the threshold is $6,500, workers earning up to $10,500 still may qualify for no tax depending on the tax allowances they qualify for as stipulated in the Income Tax Act. But the Opposition yesterday warned that they would vote against the budget, describing it as poor.

However, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said that he personally felt the people of the Fiji Islands should be happy with the budget because it targeted the main areas of their concern.

"The budget is a well balanced one and it's for all the people in the country," the Prime Minister said.

Opposition Leader Jai Ram Reddy said he was not happy with the budget as some of the important things were left out. He said the poor would remain poor and very little was in the Budget to alleviate poverty.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement expressed disappointment over the "notable absence" of strategies that would assist women.

FWRM coordinator Gina Houng Lee said that while a $3 million allocation had been made to the Micro-Enterprise Development Plan, there was no significant allocation made to the National Implementation Plan of Action for Women which was launched by the Prime Minister in October 1998.

"Women make up 50 percent of Fiji's population," she said.

Title -- 1799 ECONOMY: Tax relief for many in Fiji's 'people's budget' Date -- 7 November 1998 Byline -- Staff Reporters Origin --" target="_blank"> Source --Daily Post (Fiji), 7/11/98 Copyright -- DP Status -- Abridged This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius:" target="_blank">

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