Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says the World Bank’s recommendations to fix the Government’s balance sheet if accepted, would bring untold hardship and suffering to at least 70 per cent Fijians.
Chaudhry in a statement said this will add thousands more to the poverty queue, fuel excessive inflation impacting negatively on the people and on businesses, lead to social disorder, chaos and instability.
He said the Bank’s report released yesterday on Fiji’s economic status must be rejected and a more acceptable and realistic solution explored.
“The impact of the Report’s recommendations on the nation as a whole will be disastrous to say the least. It will further accelerate the exodus of skilled workers and professionals to foreign countries.”
“The removal of subsidies will lead to the demise of the sugar industry with grave consequences for landowners, cane growers and the rural economy as a whole.”
“Increasing the VAT rate to 15 per cent and reinstating it on basic food items while reducing the tax threshold from $30,000 to $16,000 will hit our low and middle income families the hardest.”
“Women and children will bear the brunt of this inhumane recommendation.”
“Introduction of new taxes on our manufacturing industry would certainly discourage import substitution and fuel imports causing loss of existing jobs and adding to our balance of payments problems.”
“It is in this context that Labour is shocked that Finance Minister Biman Prasad has welcomed the Report. Judging from the timing of its release, we fear that its recommendations may be referred to the National Economic Summit for endorsement,” Chaudhry added.