Controversy swirls around 2024-2025 National Budget decisions

Opposition Member of Parliament Faiyaz Koya contends that the fiscal policies introduced in the 2024-2025 National Budget will aggravate the inequality between the wealthy and the poor in the country. Addressing the Budget debate, Koya argued that the Government’s policies impose a burden on ordinary Fijians. He specifically pointed out that increases in fringe benefit tax and other indirect taxes will ultimately be passed on to consumers, making everyday goods and services more costly.

Koya also questioned the relevance of the Budget, asserting that it does little to support low-income earners and the working class. He highlighted the dissatisfaction among teachers, who feel undervalued and underpaid.

“There is a glaring lack of initiative to retain talent within the country or to invest in human capital. There are no significant projects or meaningful infrastructure development measures, leaving many vulnerable communities without the assistance they desperately need,” Koya emphasized.

He suggested that this lack of comprehensive support was a reason why the Minister for Finance did not extensively tour the countryside, anticipating the negative reactions.

Furthermore, Koya criticized the Budget for lacking transparency and accountability, raising claims of financial benefits directed towards close associates and donors. “This lack of accountability is unacceptable. The Government must provide a clear and detailed account of how public funds are being utilized,” he stated.

Koya also noted that the Budget neglects critical sectors vital for long-term economic growth, citing the absence of substantial support for agriculture, a sector crucial for food security and the livelihood of thousands of Fijians. He also pointed out the oversight of the manufacturing sector, which has the potential to create jobs and reduce reliance on imports.

“Government’s fiscal management is poor, falling short in tax collections and failing to diversify revenue sources,” Koya concluded.

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