2 Mar 2007

New Fiji budget curbs public servants pay

3:01 pm on 2 March 2007

Fiji's interim finance minister presented a new budget today, stressing that the military-backed government can't afford to continue paying its public servants bill.

Announcing the revised budget, Mahendra Chaudhry said the 5 per cent pay cut for public servants would be restored once the economy recovered.

Mr Chaudhry's budget totalled 830 million US dollars compared with the previous SDL government's 964 million US dollar budget for 2007.

The Fijilive website says Mr Chaudhry also revealed that a number of public expenditure controls would be implemented.

It said the job evaluation report of the disciplinary forces had been deferred, and the partnership agreement between public sector unions and the ousted government put on hold.

It's also been confirmed that Value Added Tax will be maintained at 12.5 per cent and no VAT will be charged for the first $18 US dollars on electricity bills.

Mr Chaudhry said one of the interim government's challenges was to reverse the widening trade deficit and stabilise the country's foreign reserves positions.

The interim administration had identified priority sectors to drive growth in exports. These included forestry, agro-business, marine products, audio visual, information and communication technology, and mineral water.

Mr Chaudhry said reforms in the sugar industry would be vigorously pursued to lift sugar cane production from the present level of 3 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes in the next three years.