COVID-19 is not the excuse for everything, says the Leader of the Unity Fiji Party, Savenaca Narube.
Narube made this statement while responding to the ‘fiscal strategic report’ issued earlier this month by the Coalition Government and highlighted that the report blamed COVID-19 for all Fiji’s problems, especially the rise in debt and contingent liabilities.
The former Governor of the Reserve Bank said this is simply not true and that the Coalition Government could have reprioritised expenses and cut out wastages to moderate the rate of borrowing, which it deliberately chose not to do so.
“The economy is still driven by tourism. There is no mention of diversification in the medium term. The Opposition Parties before the general elections were screaming for diversification to help our fragile tourism industry.”
“There are no priorities of the fiscal allocation in the strategy. For a strategic document and the first for the Coalition, this is a major oversight,” the former Governor said.
Narube also highlighted the issue of the national debt, that’s already close to the $10 billion level.
“Debt is rising to $10B, yet the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ration is declining to near 80 per cent. This reduction in debt as a percentage of GDP is largely driven by bullish economic growth projections, which have large downside risks.”
“As a new Government, the Coalition Government’s strategy at this time should err on the downside. In addition, like the FijiFirst Government, no indicator of debt servicing is mentioned in the document.”
The former Governor said the ‘fiscal strategic report’ did not revise the 2022-2023 budget estimates, which was a serious omission on the Government’s part.
He added that people were keen to find out the actual position in revenue and expenses.
“Without these revised figures, the entire fiscal projections may be seriously compromised. The 2023-2023 budget should have a mid-year update by now, which would allow the Coalition Government to review revenue and reprioritise spending,” Narube said.