29 Nov 2010

Fiji Water shuts down business after tax hike

3:00 pm on 29 November 2010

The US company, Fiji Water, is shutting its doors after Fiji's interim regime announced a massive hike in the tax on exported bottled water.

Last week, the interim regime announced in its 2011 budget the levy would increase to 15 Fiji cents per litre from the current rate of a third of a cent per litre.

In a statement, Fiji Water's President John Cochran said the new tax is untenable and the company had no choice but to close.

He said the company will also put on hold several large construction projects in Fiji.

Mr Cochran says Fiji Water contributes more than 70 million US dollars in export revenue and has employed 400 people.

He also says the country is increasingly unstable and is becoming a risky place to invest.

Mr Cochran says Fiji Water remains willing to work through the issue with the Fiji government.

The announcement comes 10 days after the interim regime deported an American executive of Fiji Water, David Roth, for allegedly interfering in Fiji's domestic affairs.

In 2008, the interim government rescinded a 20 cent per litre tax after Fiji Water briefly shut down its plant and put 700 people out of work.