23 Nov 2006

VAT protestors in action in Fiji without permit

8:26 am on 23 November 2006

A group of people led by a church based NGO staged a protest against the increase in Value Added Tax to 15% in the Fiji budget even though they were denied a permit.

The protestors had planned to express their opposition outside parliament, but when denied a permit they did so on private property outside the office of the Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, ECREA.

Thousands of cars and buses driving past tooted their horns in support as the protestors stood holding up banners and their mouths taped to indicate they had been silenced.

The protestors said members of the Police Tactical Response Team who arrived only wanted to know whether they had any connection with the military.

The field coordinator of the Roman Catholic Church-based NGO, Semiti Qalowasa, said the rally was to help raise the voice of the ordinary and the less fortunate who have pleaded with the government to re-think their stand on the increase in Value Added Tax.

An executive of the NGO, Father Kevin Barr, says they will lodge a fresh application to stage a protest march.