Minister for Rural and Maritime Development, Sakiasi Ditoka says there has been no secrecy in the entire budgetary process.
In his contribution to the 2023-24 National Budget debate in Parliament today, Ditoka said the Government was openly discussing the need to increase Value Added Tax to implement the below par revenue performance.
Ditoka said this was backed by the Fiscal Review Committee after carefully assessing the available data both from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service and the Fiji Bureau of Statistics – together with the input gathered from the various public consultations across Fiji.
“Nothing was hidden from the taxpayers of this country. We preached it, and we are living by it.”
Ditoka highlighted that the official rate is 24.1 per cent equating to 208,000 Fijians who live below the poverty line – 75 per cent of those that live below the poverty line are i-Taukei which is approximately 156,000 people and the other 25 per cent which is approximately 52,000 people belongs to other races.
The Minister said the FijiFirst Government had failed to empower every Fiji citizen in order to improve their livelihoods, but instead hand outs which temporarily addressed the symptoms of poverty and left the roots of it very much intact.
“That is why the poverty rate had increased. The People’s Coalition will work towards reducing the poverty rate through sustainable policies and resilient infrastructures,” Ditoka added.