The poultry industry is highly protected by Government and the exorbitant increase in chicken prices charged by a few unscrupulous traders in the last few days is a matter of concern, says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad.
Prof Prasad said Government protects the industry with a 32 per cent fiscal duty and a 10 per cent import excise duty, and this is a total tariff protection of 42 per cent to ensure Fijians get affordable and high quality chicken products from the domestic market.
“It is clear that some of these traders have tried to take unfair advantage of vulnerable consumers and to some extent sensationalise the VAT increase for reasons better known to them.”
“Government had formed a price surveillance taskforce comprising of FCCC, FRCS and the Ministry of Finance to monitor prices after the budget announcement, and we have clearly noted a disproportionately large increase of over 30 percent in chicken prices in the last 2 days charged by few unscrupulous traders.”
Prof Prasad said while chicken prices should have only increased by 6 percent given the increase in VAT from 9 to 15 per cent, these businesses in their own commercial interest went ahead to increase prices by over 30 per cent.
“This is unacceptable and we thank those industry stakeholders that have come out quickly to clarify this issue. We expect that the market will immediately rectify this anomaly.”
“I have also been advised by FCCC and have also got assurance from some of the industry players that chicken prices will be brought down immediately.”
“However, I wish to remind businesses that this kind of unscrupulous behaviour seen in the last 2 days is highly unacceptable.”
He added the chicken wholesale and retail market is unregulated as they believe that there is sufficient competition in the market to avoid carteling and price fixing.
However, they are closely monitoring this situation and if need be, Government is prepared to take tough measures on those trying to distort the market.