FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/7/2017
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum views some aspects of the 2017-2018 National Budget with caution likewise urges the general public to be aware on how the budget will affect their daily lives.
The salary increase to civil servants by the government is a notable incentive although subject to conditions. Government is encouraged to uphold human rights of civil servants’ on this new employment transition which limits employment security. The nurses and police salary increase was long overdue. However the budget seemed silent on the salary incentive for special police constables who are doing the hard yards as regular officers.
Regardless of the tax exemption threshold increased to $30,000.00, government lacked the political will by not responding positively to Trade Unions various pleas to regulate reasonable minimum wage guideline to $4, instead of a mere 36cents increase from the $2.32 hourly rate.
As part of Fiji’s contribution towards the United Nations Ocean Conference, Fiji should commit to banning plastic bags altogether rather than burdening the ordinary citizen with the imposition of a 10 cents per bag levy.
CCF believes that more could have been allocated to Rural Development to improve livelihoods, capacity and skills training and accessibility of services for rural dwellers to minimise dependency on government hand-outs in future.
Overall the Budget is an ‘Election Budget’ by Government as confirmed by the Honourable PM in yesterday’s daily. The success of the 2017-2018 budget will only be achieved in a less-controlled democracy where freedom of the media, freedom of speech and core human right values are promoted and protected.