Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the primary focus of Government policies must be the well-being of the people, not just the balancing of books and repayment of debts.
Chaudhry in a statement said Fiscal Review Committee chair Richard Naidu’s figures on VAT projection seems to keep changing.
He said Naidu in a radio talkback show this week claimed that VAT on basic food items would rake in greater revenue for Government of around $200m to $220m annually and had cited $160m at the Economic Summit two weeks ago.
Chaudhry re-iterated his argument that imposing VAT on basic food and essential household items would have a devastating impact on the ability of low income families and the poor to survive.
“The debate should be viewed from the standpoint of how it will impact on the poor and the under-privileged in our society and not how much money government can rake in.
“Richard Naidu is merely concentrating on increasing government revenue. He is not considering the serious inflationary impact any increase in VAT will have on the entire economy as the cost of all goods and services go up.
He has warned that more people will leave our shores if the cost of living keeps rising and life becomes more difficult.
“Even businesses will not survive.”
“Government did not appear to know how to tackle problems facing it. There were other options to raising government revenue. Debts can be re-arranged or re-negotiated. “
“Has the Government considered other options? It should take some advice on alternative policies instead of just focusing on raising VAT.”
“Increasing social welfare payments and giving handouts, in lieu, undermine the dignity and self-respect of the recipients and are socially regressive means of dealing with poverty,” he added.