Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says the 2023-2024 National Budget will be people-centred, and adjustments will be made to ensure sustainable economic growth in the short and medium term.
In a national address, Rabuka said the budget has been prepared to consolidate Government finances; minimise wastages; address our high debt level; allocate resources to priority sectors; and to allow our people to have access to basic services.
He said in this context, he would like to assure the nation that the 2023-2024 Budget will be balanced and restrained, while still delivering core services, investing in health, skills development and improve our infrastructure.
“Inclusiveness will be given priority to ensure fiscal sustainability, at the same time, ensuring a fair distribution of wealth.”
“Most importantly, in recognising the significant impact of geopolitical uncertainties and climate risk, measures will be put in place to ensure resilience, adaptation and mitigation measures and sustainability.”
“This will strengthen our resilience to future shocks and position our nation to be competitive to meet new challenges as well as to continue our journey to become a united, progressive and a prosperous nation.”
He said extensive consultations were undertaken, and the Budget was formulated in the spirit of priorities identified in the fiscal framework endorsed by Cabinet earlier this year.
“Some hard decisions are needed to shift away from the “business as usual” attitude.”
“This means, the fiscal strategy covering the period FY2023-2026 is a critical one, where urgent steps need to be taken to address the high public debt situation.”
“One of the prime objectives of the fiscal strategy is to bring back fiscal discipline. This means cutting wastage to return to fiscal sustainability.”
“While taking a balanced approach we also must find ways to increase our revenue collection. This may mean pain for people.”
“As our current debt burden is extremely high at 85 percent of GDP, our revenue collection must be more robust.”
“The revenue policy reforms will be guided by principles of fairness, simplicity and revenue-adequacy.”
He said the Coalition Government is also changing the way we do business with regard to revenue collection for the nation.
“We are committed to transparency and genuine consultation with businesses and taxpayers. We want to make it easy for all our citizens to pay their fair share of taxes.”
“These changes will be reflected in the new plan for FRCS and the new compliance improvement strategy. We will also make the best use of technology and analytical tools to enable compliance with tax laws.”
“We must all play our part as citizens, and patriots to rebuild our nation, for improved health, education, infrastructure, including other essential services that have deteriorated over the years.”
“A key example of this in the Budget is that our taxation system will be instrumental in addressing the crisis caused by non-communicable diseases which is killing thousands of people every year, more than any other disease.”
“Policies will be implemented to reduce the intake of junk food and increase domestic and organic food production which will in turn improve the wellbeing of our people.”
“We have also demonstrated our willingness to engage and genuinely listen to you taxpayers and the community at large.”
“I am confident that we have clearly heard your views through budget consultations, the National Economic Summit and the work of the Fiscal Review Committee in identifying issues of national priorities that must be addressed with urgency,” he added.