Parliament has passed the 12 consequential bills and as convention, the bills seek to amend relevant laws to address budgetary policy changes.
The bills passed are: Bill to amend the Tax Administration Act 2009, Bill (Amendment) Income Tax Act 2015, Bill (Amendment) Value Added Tax Act 1991, the Bill (Amendment) Customs Act 1986, Bill (Amendment) Customs Tariff Act 1986, the Bill (Amendment) Excise Act 1986, the Bill (Amendment) Airport Departure Tax Act, the Bill (Amendment) Water Resources Tax Act, the Bill (Amendment) Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, Bill (Amendment) Fiji National Provident Fund Act 2011, the Bill (Amendment) Tertiary Scholarships and Loans Service Act 2014 and the Bill (Amendment) Land Sales Act 1974.
Speaking on his motion, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance said that consultations on the 12 bills with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Services and the Office of the Solicitor-General.
There have been mixed reactions from both sides of Parliament into the Proposed Bill (Amendment) Water Resource Tax.
Opposition MP Premila Kumar did not support the Amendment Bill Water Resources Tax and if passed she said bottle water companies will get away in two ways.
Kumar said none of these companies will pay for the five per cent Corporate Tax – meaning absolutely nothing on their profits they will be earning and an increase in the threshold of water extraction from 3.5 million litres of water to 10 million litres.
“This is an outrageous piece of legislations if implemented.”
Also, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism Viliame Gavoka revealed that in reality, Fiji is earning more income if the legislation budget amendment on the Water Resource Tax Bill is passed.
Gavoka said revenue earned would be 20 per cent more on what we are currently earning.
He told Opposition MPs to not engage in cheap politics and good sound bites.
“It goes not give confidence to Fiji’s potential investors when we attack them this way. We need to protect our investors,” Gavoka said.
Opposition MP Jone Usamate says the introductions of these bills are absolutely hogwash.
Usamate said that under these Bills, the Income Tax Bill, Social Responsibility Tax would be reduced, while at the same time the highest taxpayers paying tax is reduced.
He said at the same time, Value Added Tax is increased to 15 per cent.
“Government says people that earn the lowest income; they do not pay much of the stuff outside the ambient of the zero rated listed items. Absolute hogwash.”
He added that people would also like to go to the movies or to MacDonald’s and do all of these.
Prof Prasad in his Right of Reply said that the Government is disappointed that the Opposition still thinks that there is still some sort of conspiracy or sinister motive by the Government.
He highlighted that submissions to the Ministry of Finance were from the water bottling companies as a whole.
He added that their figures are all wrong.
Meanwhile, 29 MPs voted in support of the motions, 23 voted against it while 2 opted not to vote.