2.5% INCREASE IN FIJI VAT WORRIES SHOPPERS

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Tax up to 15 percent on all but basic goods

Mary Rauto SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 2, 2011) – In Fiji, heralding the New Year included more than merry making.

Shoppers in Suva felt the pinch of the 2.5 per cent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) that came into effect on 1 January.

VAT had increased from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.

One shopper, Joseph Philitoga said the difference in food prices was very high.

"We normally spend around FJ$150 [US$81] when we go out shopping. Now we are paying FJ$213 [US$115], Mr. Philitoga said. At one time last year, the prices of food dropped. It did not last very long then prices went past the normal price."

He said VAT affected "everyday-items".

"These are everyday needs, basic items like food, he said. They talk about price chopping but now it's turned into price rising."

Another shopper, Harry Prasad said the VAT increase before the start of a new school year was "not good".

"It is the start of the new school year. I have two children, one in Form Six and another in Class Seven, he said. We already have the school fees to worry about. I can understand the increase in alcohol and cigarette prices but to increase the price of food is not good because at the end of the day, we have to eat."

[PIR editor's note: Radio New Zealand International reports that there will be an 8-week tax holiday for school stationary to help parents prepare for the school year.]

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