3 Nov 2006

Fiji finance minister tables budget, raises taxes

2:42 pm on 3 November 2006

The Fiji government has increased a wide range of taxes and levies to raise revenue for its 895 million US dollar deficit budget tabled in parliament today.

Value Added Tax, or VAT, which is charged on almost all goods and services, has gone up from 12.5 percent to 15 percent.

This tax has already been the government's biggest single source of revenue.

The minister of finance, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, says to alleviate the effects of increased VAT on the poorest, he has raised the income tax threshold to 6,000 US dollars a year and increased the budget for social welfare, poverty alleviation and affirmative action.

The government has increased import duties on white goods and household appliances, motor vehicles, dairy products, meat and agricultural produce.

Excise duties on alcohol and tobacco products have gone up again.

Education has again received the biggest slice of the budget with 195 million US dollars.

The military budget has been increased by 6 million US dollars to almost 51 million and the police budget by 4.4 million to 46 million US dollars.

After economic growth of just 0.7 percent in 2005, the finance minister is predicting growth of two percent in 2007.