Fiji Opposition Says Government Budget Favors The Elite

2017-2018 proposal being debated in Parliament

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 11, 2017) – The 2017-2018 National Budget is a budget for big businesses over battlers.

This was told to Parliament by the Opposition spokesperson on economy, Aseri Radrodro, as the House started its debate on the national budget yesterday.

In his official response to the budget address by the Attorney-General and Economy Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Mr Radrodro said the budget favoured the elite, such as businesses, contractors and consultants — giving them the biggest slice of the economic pie.

Mr Radrodro said while the budget had good handouts, the Fijian people were more concerned about their ability to live decent lives, which included finding affordable accommodation and putting decent meals on their dinner table.

"The Government of the day has the responsibility to ensure equitable service provision for the nation. This is not reflected in this budget. It would be interesting to see who will benefit the most from this budget."

Mr Radrodro asked whether all the people of Fiji embraced the budget or only a selected few.

"Economists always argue that convention economies go through a cyclical phase. As a layman, I see our economy as a rollercoaster in slow motion."

He said while the Government was collecting more tax than any other time in its history, it had added a national debt of $5.2 billion [US$2.5 billion].

"No other government has ever carried Fiji to a precarious level of indebtedness."

Mr Radrodro claimed the budget was making the Government remain popular.

"Subsequently, prudent financial policies that would otherwise be an attribute of a responsible government have been overlooked. At a time of declining living standards, this budget promises fewer jobs, lower growth.

"It is not redistributive of wealth and income, and does not change the structure of society or move towards a more equitable and empowering one."

Mr Radrodro said the budget was a desperate one, aimed at winning the hearts and minds of vulnerable people eager with promises of something better for their lives.

"In reality, it is just a whole load of hogwash. When we look at the military budget of $175.9 million [US$85.4 million] and contrast that with the productive sectors of agriculture which got $86.3m [US$41.9 million] and the Ministry of Sugar which was allocated $60m [US$29 million], the real picture of where the FijiFirst Government priority lies is clear."

Fiji Times Online.
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