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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 17, 2001 – The Sun)---Any poverty alleviation package government may introduce without addressing Value Added Tax will be a farce, Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy director, Aisake Casimira said yesterday.

"We are concerned about government's intention to re-introduce VAT on basic food items.

"We agree with other concerned individuals and organizations that revenue lost can be retrieved through increased duty and taxes on luxury items or increasing personal income tax for high income earners," Mr. Casimira said.

"If government can plan tax reductions for business companies and top income earners and then place a heavy burden on low income earners and the poor by re-introducing VAT on basic food items it definitely will not be pro-people, pro-poor, and pro-worker.

"Any poverty alleviation packages government may introduce without addressing VAT will be a farce."

Mr. Casimira said ECREA was concerned that government was relentless in demanding that wage standards and occupational Health and Safety legislation be adhered to as a minimum.

He said a just living wage measured against the poverty line must be established for all workers.

The recent Fiji Poverty Report showed that in order to overcome poverty, not only must jobs be created, but a wage must be paid which will keep a household out of poverty.

"In this regard we are encouraged to read that the Minister for Labor is intending to pursue the issue of just wage," Mr. Casimira said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Sun, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Sun.

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