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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 25, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---The government has not made any effort to pay the Suva City Council $1.1 million owed in rates, said Lord Mayor Mataiasi Ragigia.

He said the state properties on which rates are levied include the Customs headquarters, Customs Department, Police stations, Government Buildings, some ministries, Government Archives, government-owned institutions, hospitals and the army barracks.

Councilor Ragigia said he appealed to the Minister for Local Government, Dr. Ganesh Chand, to help in the payment.

Discounts on rates were offered early in the year but the government had not taken advantage of these to save taxpayers' money, he said.

However, Dr. Chand had said earlier that the government does not pay rates to the Suva City Council. Instead, it gives an annual grant, which is provided in the Local Government Act.

Ragigia had said that they are rates and not a grant.

"How can it be a grant? Grants are for places like the Thurston Gardens. These are government residential blocks we are talking about," he said.

Dr. Chand said the Government will pay the grant this year.

"As far as I am aware, the Government does not owe any grant to SCC. For further details on this matter you should contact the Ministry of Lands, which administers the grants on behalf of government," he said.

The city council had offered a 15 percent discount to ratepayers who paid by January 31, 2000, and a 7.5 percent discount to those who paid by February 29.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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