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Budget Commentaries & Analysis:
 
 

Number of significant announcements made in the 2016/2017 National Budget

Wednesday 22/06/2016

A number of significant announcements have been made in the 2016/2017 National Budget in order to rebuild and recover after Cyclone Winston, increase salaries for doctors, Police constables and Early Childhood teachers, and more support for the youth, people living with disabilities and disadvantaged groups in the country.

Looking at Taxes:

All new hybrid vehicles will continue to enjoy duty free status for the next two years while duty will be charged for second hand hybrid vehicles from next year.

From January 1st next year, second hand hybrid vehicles will attract duties between $2,000 to $6,500.

Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said FRCA will also publicize details of vehicle prices when they are landed in Fiji and the prices set by individual car dealers.

He has raised this issue as vehicles brought in for $8,000 are being sold at $22,000.

Duty on second hand vehicles has now increased. 1,000 to 1,500cc vehicles will attract a $7,500 specific duty while 1,500 to 2,500cc second hand vehicles will attract a specific duty of $11,500. Duties will increase further to $18,000 and $23,000 for second hand vehicles with bigger engines.

A 7 year tax holiday has been offered for those that invest in setting up of Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations.

The grant subsidy is up to a maximum of 5 percent of the total capital outlay incurred in the development of Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations with capital expenditure of not less than $3 million and 7 percent of the capital outlay with capital expenditure of not less than $10 million.

Cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol will attract an increased tax of 15 percent. This rate of increase will continue for the next 3 years.

Excise tax for sugar sweetened drinks has also been increased by 20 cents per litre.

Machines linked to supermarket cash registers will be deployed this year to ensure that there is tax compliance.

The Water Resource Tax has also gone up. It will go up from 0.11 cents to 1 cent per litre for extraction of up to 3.49 million litres of water per month and increase from 15 cents to 18 cents per litre for extraction of 3.5 million litres of water and above per month.

A series of disposals of principal place of residence will now be subject to Capital Gains Tax.

Service Turnover Tax and Environmental Levy will also be charged on bus companies that engage in the carriage of tourists.

VAT will now be applicable on business of dealing in residential accommodation rentals exceeding a threshold of $100,000 a year.

For Employers:

There is no change to the corporate tax rate.

The tax deduction on wages paid on first full-time employees will continue with an increased rate of 200 percent, effective from August 1st 2016.

Sayed-Khaiyum has also announced a 200 percent tax deduction on apprenticeship in the related area of study of up to 6 months in a year before graduation for students, as part of course requirements.

A 200 percent tax deduction on wages paid to students employed in the related area of study for up to 3 months in a year during the holidays and a 300 percent tax deduction on wages paid in the employment of people living with disabilities who will be employed continuously for a period of 3 years.

There will be a 150 percent tax deduction of employees’ education fees who are allowed to study and attend training to obtain a professional qualification during their course of employment.

All these tax deductions will expire in 2020 except the incentive to hire disabled people, which will expire in 2022.

Credit Card Levy:

The Credit Card Levy of 3 percent will be removed from 1st August this year.

Salaries:

Good news for doctors employed by the government.

The government is giving a healthy pay rise to attract and retain talented doctors.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the increased salary ranges from 56% to 81% depending on their specialized area of practice which should give everyone an idea of just how under paid they were.

The government will also pay for their post graduate studies at FNU.

An allocation of $40.7 million has been set aside to meet the salaries of the doctors.

Meanwhile, a $250,000 has been set aside to set up an Open and Transparent Complaints System and create a mechanism for any Fijian to seek resolution of complaints by the treatment by any Medical or Health Institution.

The Finance Minister has also announced that a benchmark compensation survey has been completed where more than 140 civil service positions were reviewed.

The survey collected salary data of positions in the private sector, international and regional organizations to assess appropriate salary levels for competitive positions in the civil service.

A final report of the study is expected later this year and the implementation is planned for pilot ministries from September this year.

Sayed-Khaiyum said some pay increases have already been confirmed with several ministries after the necessary reviews were conducted.

He said a survey report in September would establish their next step.

Good news for Police constables as their salaries will increase by 20 percent.

The Police budget has been increased by $5.5 million to $131.7 million.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the government has spent $88 million on the Help for Homes Initiative so far to assist people living in cyclone affected areas.

Another $20 million will be allocated in the 2016/2017 National Budget for this initiative.

$207 million has been allocated for Winston rehabilitation efforts.

$142.6 million has been allocated to rebuild education facilities while 38 schools have been confirmed for the Adopt the School Program.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the insurance companies also need to do more.

He said public consultations will be held soon on insurance services and those who are under-serviced at the moment.

$527 million has been allocated for the Fiji Roads Authority in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

Rural roads have been allocated $95 million while $4.5 million has been allocated for high priority bridges.

It has also been announced that $200,000 has been allocated for preliminary works for the development of a new airport in Seaqaqa.

$308.6 million has been allocated to the Water Authority of Fiji - $229.4 million of this has been allocated for capital works.

There will be increased salaries for Early Childhood teachers in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

The grants for Early Childhood Schools have also been increased by 33 percent.

30 more scholarships will be available under the National Toppers Scheme in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

The Fiji National University will also begin construction of its new campus in Labasa.

FNU will also begin to offer graduate medical programs from next year. This will increase the pool of doctors in the country.

Good news as $1 million has been allocated to build a world class pilot training academy in Nadi.

Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji Airways is working with Airbus and Boeing to set up this academy which includes world class pilot simulators.

The Fiji National University may be involved in this training academy.

Decentralised Government Services:

New Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) offices will be established and existing offices will be refurbished and upgraded with special equipment in offices throughout the country.

4 new BDM offices will be opened in Nabouwalu, Navua, Korovou and Sigatoka.

Legal Aid Services will receive a funding of $5 million.

New Legal Aid offices will also open in Rotuma, Taveuni, Levuka, Nabouwalu and Kadavu making a total of 18 Legal Aid Commission offices in Fiji.

Health:

$13.4 million has been allocated to complete construction of the new Ba Hospital, $4.1 million has been allocated to help complete the new Naulu Health Centre, $2 million has been set aside to upgrade the Rotuma Health Centre, $3 million has been allocated to extend the CWM Maternity Unit and $2.3 million has been set aside to help complete the Low Risk Maternity Unit In Makoi.

It has also been announced that $6.3 million has been allocated to upgrade the Keyasi Health Centre to a Sub-Divisional Hospital.

$7.5 million has been allocated to RFMF to get specialized vehicles.

This is to assist in recovery efforts after natural disasters.

New vacuum street cleaners will be introduced in some areas including Suva from next year.

A National Micro Small Enterprise Council will be set up. This will be chaired by the Prime Minister. The council will provide funding, training, collect data, support and evaluate data.

The Tourism budget allocation has been increased from $32 million to $36 million.

The Departure Tax has been eliminated for those visitors who stay in Fiji for less than 72 hours.

It has been announced that a new bill will be presented in parliament to have new retail hours. Sayed-Khaiyum said there will also be protection for shop assistants and repealing the archaic law is necessary.

The government will relax the requirement for car park spaces for new buildings.

The government will pay for the vocational teachers teaching at the centres for the people living with disabilities and a new regulation will be put in place for the first two seats in buses to be reserved for people living with disabilities.

Sugar and Agriculture:

Government will continue with the fertilizer subsidy with an allocation of $9.7 million while $3 million will be provided for the upgrade of cane access roads.

The government has also increased the allocation of the Sugarcane Development Farm Assistance program to $11 million.

An allocation of $17.1 million has been provided to support rehabilitation efforts for non-sugar sectors as part of the Ministry of Agriculture allocation of $74 million.

These funds will be used to repair and rebuild damaged agricultural offices and quarters, to replant 500,000 coconut trees, to develop dalo and yaqona and rehabilitate crops in the severely affected areas in the Northern, Eastern and Central Divisions.

The government has received direct budgetary support of $23 million from the European Union for rehabilitation of the entire agriculture sector including sugarcane cultivation and processing.

FICAC has been allocated $8.5 million.

Budget:

The 2016/2017 National Budget projects $3.64 billion expenditure and $3.18 billion revenue.

Sayed-Khaiyum said 40 percent of the amount of money allocated in the National Budget goes to capital expenditure and 60 percent to operating expenditure. He said in 2005, the allocation was 85 percent for operating expenditure and 15 percent for capital expenditure.

The Finance Minister said the government will redouble its efforts in the National Budget to rebuild and recover after Cyclone Winston on February 20th this year.

From next year, the ministries will present 3 year and 5 year plans.

Economic growth for Fiji is expected to be 3 percent for this year despite Tropical Cyclone Winston and the government said that they have a sound recovery plan after Winston.

This will also see nine consecutive years of economic growth for Fiji for the first time.

Inflation is expected to remain at 2 to 3 percent.

It has also been announced that FNPF is expected to credit members 6.25 percent interest despite paying out the Cyclone Assistance funds.

The Ministry of Finance will also change its name to Ministry of Economy from 1st August.

Sports:

A great incentive has been offered to our Olympians as cash rewards of $30,000 has been allocated for any Olympian who brings home a medal after the Rio Olympics.

The government has set aside $500,000 for this.

This will be another boost for the Vodafone Fiji 7s team as they aim to win Fiji’s first ever gold medal.

Meanwhile, the government is also bidding for Fiji to host the World Weightlifting Championship 2018.

In Golf, the Fiji International Golf Tournament will be held in Fiji again next year.

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      Government has guaranteed that the Free Water Initiative will continue in the new financial year.

      This initiative only applies to households with a combined income of $30,000 and less and this is a total amount of 91,250 litres of free water.

      Since the Free Water Initiative was introduced, 25,338 households have benefitted from it.

      People in rural areas will also benefit from the budget after government allocated $7.5 million for the rural supply programme and $3 million have been allocated to rural areas that do not have water meters.

      The Water Authority of Fiji has been allocated a total sum of $308.6 million for the 2016/2017 National Budget.

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      With a total allocation of $56.1 million granted to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, it will now be able to create a social safety net for the disadvantaged populace while at the same time advocating self-sufficiency through the provision of livelihood training and income generating projects.

      The Poverty Benefit Scheme has been allocated a sum of $23.2 million to assist destitute families which also includes an additional budget of $1.2 million to cater for 1,000 additional recipients.

      A budget of $14 million has been allocated to the Social Pension Scheme to cater for the increase in recipient numbers due to the reduction in the eligibility age to 66 years which will be effective from the 1st of next month.

      This programme will establish a social safety net for people above the age of 66 years by providing a $50 monthly allowance.

      An allocation of $0.15 million has been granted to the Fire Victim Relief Assistance which will provide immediate relief for Fijians who lose their homes in a fire.

      Meanwhile, $1.6 million has been allocated for the Initiatives for the Disabled to provide office space for disabled organizations, a bus for disabled persons in the West and salary for 8 teachers in Vocational Training Centers.

      $3.5 million has been allocated to the Child Protection Allowance programme to assist the disadvantaged children under kinship care and children under the care of Residential Homes.

      The Child Protection Programme received an allocation of $1 million to focus on innovative child welfare systems.

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      The Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Environment has been allocated $25.1 million and the major focus will be given for squatter upgrading and resettlement projects.

      A sum of $2.1 million has been allocated to support upgrading works at the Ledrusasa, Sasawira, Cuvu, Namara and Lakena Hill squatter settlements.

      $0.4 million has been provided for the completion of four squatter settlement projects which includes Nauluvatu settlement footpath in Suva, Vunato and Kaleli sanitary project in Lautoka, Delainasole settlement road upgrading in Nasinu and Valenicina settlement road upgrading in Lami.

      Apart from this, $2.5 million has been provided for the construction of 36 Public Rental Board flats in Kuata street, Lautoka, to cater for the increased demand for rental housing.

      $2.45 million has been provided to subsidize the infrastructure development cost of the project which is expected to produce 402 low cost housing lots at Matavolivoli in Nadi.

      Government has also allocated $0.5 million to cover the construction of new HART homes and the maintenance of existing ones.

      $0.5 million has been provided to assist the fire victims who earn $50,000 and below and have proper lease titles but do not have insurance cover.

      Meanwhile, a review of the organizational structure of municipal councils will take place and $116,000 has been allocated for this.

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      A total sum of $19.6 million has been allocated to the Attorney General’s Office for their 2016/2017 budget.

      The Legal Aid Commission has been granted a sum of $5 million for the provision of basic legal services including legal presentation for clients who cannot afford private lawyers.

      The Department of Civil Aviation received an allocation of $2.5 million in order to fund the operations of the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji.

      Meanwhile, $1.9 million was given to the Domestic Air Service Subsidy Program while $0.2 million was granted for the preparatory works for the development of a new airport in Vanua Levu.

      $0.3 million was allocated to fund the operations of the Media Industry Development Authority while $0.2 million has been allocated to the Fiji Intellectual Property Office and $0.1 million was allocated to the Constitutional Offices Commission.

      Funding for the law reform and legal reviews included $0.1 million for the reviewing of the Copyright Act while $0.2 million was given to review the land lease arrangements.

      $0.5 million has been given for the extension of Matei Airport in Taveuni.

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      Consumer Council of Fiji Chief Executive Officer Premila Kumar has said the 2016/2017 National Budget has turned out to be a forward looking budget and very neutral as it will not hurt consumers.

      Cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol will attract an increased tax of 15 percent from today. This rate of increase will continue for the next 3 years.

      Excise tax for sugar sweetened drinks has also been increased by 20 cents per litre.

      Machines linked to supermarket cash registers will be deployed this year to ensure that there is tax compliance.

      The Water Resource Tax has also gone up. It will go up from 0.11 cents to 1 cent per litre for extraction of up to 3.49 million litres of water per month and increase from 15 cents to 18 cents per litre for extraction of 3.5 million litres of water and above per month.

      A series of disposals of principal place of residence will now be subject to Capital Gains Tax.

      Service Turnover Tax and Environmental Levy will also be charged on bus companies that engage in the carriage of tourists.

      VAT will now be applicable on business of dealing in residential accommodation rentals exceeding a threshold of $100,000 a year.

      Meanwhile, Kumar said the increase in budget allocated to the council shows the commitment from the government towards consumer protection. Kumar said with an allocation of $1.3 million to the council, they will be able to boost their services to consumers.

      The Consumer Council of Fiji was allocated $150,000 in last year’s budget.

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      Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has said although the government has allocated money for the rehabilitation works post Cyclone Winston, they are still not satisfied with the result as the government did not mention the amount raised as donations locally and internationally.

      The government allocated $207.9 million for rehabilitation works post Cyclone Winston.

      Kepa said that they have been asking the government to give them figures on how much the people of Fiji have raised as donations and how much people have raised for donations overseas and four months after the cyclone, they have not received any figures yet.

      She added that they have some issues with the bills mentioned during the National Budget announcement.

      The National Budget supplement highlights the sectoral distribution of aid-in-kind for the 2016/2017 financial year. That stands at $135.8 million.

      The total cash grants amount to $34.6 million.

      Meanwhile, Kepa agrees with the government increasing doctors’ salaries as she said that the doctors are usually over worked.

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      People can expect better roads and bridges as the government has allocated a budget of $527.2 million for the Fiji Roads Authority.

      $31.8 million has been given for the cyclone rehabilitation work of roads, bridges and jetties.

      $4.5 million has been allocated for the urgent repair of nine priority bridges which includes Walu Bay bridge, Tamavua-i-Wai bridge, Labasa bridge, Lami bridge, Vesidrau bridge, Tavualevu bridge, Naiyalayala bridge, Matanaivuso bridge and Nakasava bridge.

      The government has given $56.6 million for the four lane projects for Nadi and Suva.

      $38.2 million has been given for the upgrading and replacement of bridges while $79.8 million for the maintenance programme.

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      National Federation Party MP Professor Biman Prasad said there was more politics than economics in the 2016/2017 budget.

      Prasad said he was very unhappy with the budget.

      However, Damodar Events Cinemas CEO Div Damodar said lots of initiatives have come out this year for property development and IT.

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      The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts has been given $448.5 million in the 2016/2017 National Budget with the main focus on rehabilitation for schools affected by Cyclone Winston.

      $142.6 million has been allocated to rebuild education facilities with $132 million being the cost for the rehabilitation of 250 schools.

      Breakdown of Cyclone Rehabilitation for Education:

      A building grant of $3.5 million has been given to repair 95 Early Childhood Centres.

      Forty-three boarding facilities for primary schools will be repaired with an allocation of $1.9 million.

      The government has also given $1.5 million for the purchase of furniture for damaged schools and also $3 million for repairs on 64 non-government primary schools.

      Boarding facilities for seven registered secondary schools will also be repaired under a total allocation of $250,630.

      An allocation of $461,110 has also been given as building grants to nine non-government secondary schools.

      Other Education initiatives:

      The government has allocated money for the construction of two new schools next year.

      A sum of $1.6 million has been given for the construction of the new Bau Central College while $215,345 has been allocated for the construction of Nailou Infant School in Cakaudrove.

      Good news for schools whose students are required to cross rivers and travel by sea as $285,051 has been allocated as grants for the purchase of boats and outboard motor engines.

      An increased funding of $20 million is provided for the Bus Fare Subsidy Scheme and this also includes technical colleges.

      $200 million has been allocated for the continuation of the Free Education Initiative.

      A sum of $5.5 million is provided for the printing of textbooks for primary and secondary schools while funding of $3.6 million is allocated for free milk for Year 1 students.

      Registered special schools are provided $3.3 million.

      $200,000 is also provided under the scholarship scheme for children with special needs.

      Funding support of $13.9 million is provided in the 2016/2017 Budget to cover the operating grant of 11 technical colleges.

      30 more scholarships will be available under the National Toppers Scheme.

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      Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has revealed ahead of the 2016-2017 National budget announcement tonight that the budget will focus on intensifying rebuilding efforts after Cyclone Winston and help develop enduring climate-change mitigation measures.

      He said the budget will also seek to foster a continuation of Fiji’s broad-based growth and target assistance towards the disadvantaged.

      Sayed-Khaiyum said another principal area of spending will be to empower ordinary Fijians from all walks of life.

      He said for the first time in Fiji’s history they have held specific and direct consultations with people living with disabilities and with high school students.

      The Minister for Finance said through these consultations, disabled persons and high school students have had direct input on the inclusive budget consultations.

      Public consultations were held in Labasa and Lautoka and were attended by NGOs, the business community, civil society and education institutions.

      Meanwhile, the 2016/2017 National Budget will be announced by the Finance Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at 7.30 tonight in parliament.

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      The government is expected to announce some new initiatives for housing as Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has already announced that government wants to address the low rate of home ownership in Fiji.

      Sayed-Khaiyum said we need to increase the rate of home-ownership to solve the huge housing problem especially in squatter settlements.

      While speaking at the Budget Forum at Labasa College earlier this month, Sayed-Khaiyum had highlighted that there is an option of having strata titling.

      Strata title is a form of home ownership devised for multi-level apartment blocks and horizontal subdivisions with shared areas.

      Sayed-Khaiyum said the government had changed the law pertaining to strata titling a few years ago.

      He said there is no land in the Suva peninsula to construct houses and people are going as far as Nausori to build their homes.

      The 2016/2017 National Budget will be announced by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at 7.30 tonight.

      Meanwhile there will be road closures this evening due to the announcement of the budget.

      Police Deputy Director Operations Livai Driu said Gladstone Road and Southern Cross Road will be closed from 6 tonight until the end of the budget announcement.

      Driu said motorists will need to find alternative routes during those times.

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      Hopes are high that the government will not increase VAT in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

      Consumer Council of Fiji Chief Executive Premila Kumar has said consumers received the good news last year when the Finance Minister announced that VAT will be reduced from 15 to 9 percent.

      Kumar said knowing that increases are expected in duties and taxes, the council is hoping that VAT does not go up.

      The council has proposed that duties and taxes should be increased for items like cigarettes, alcohol and sugar sweetened drinks while duty should be reduced for essential food items.

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      Minister for National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu said that they are looking forward to the government’s allocation post Cyclone Winston in the 2016/2017 National Budget announcement at 7.30 tonight.

      Seruiratu said that they will definitely have an allocation for recovery works after the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston.

      He said the allocation for post Winston will be different from the allocation of the office of the National Disaster Management which was $3.8M in the 2016 National Budget.

      Seruiratu added that the $3.8 million allocated for the NDMO is sufficient.

      The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster was allocated $36.9 million in the 2016 National Budget which was an increase of $5 million from the 2015 national budget.

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      The main focus for the Ministry of Education budget for 2016/2017 will be on rebuilding efforts for schools affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston in February.

      This will be a major priority for the government as at least 80% of the students whose schools were affected by the cyclone are still having classes in tents.

      It was previously highlighted by the Education Minister Mahendra Reddy that there will be more targeted assistance for schools in the interior and maritime zones.

      He had promised last month that schools whose students are required to cross rivers and travel by sea will be given a new fibre glass boat and engine after the budget announcement.

      This means that the allocation for special-needs grants to schools is expected to increase.

      The special needs allocation for last year was $3.3M.

      The budget for the Ministry of Education for 2016 was $432.2 million which was an increase of $30.6 million from 2015.

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      The Fiji Roads Authority is again expected to receive a record budget considering the fact that a number of bridges, roads and crossings were damaged during Tropical Cyclone Winston.

      The Fiji Roads Authority had earlier confirmed that 160 bridges and crossings were damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston costing $44 million.

      FRA Acting Chief Executive Officer Rory Garland had mentioned that they have conducted their full assessment with 23 bridges now being prioritized for more permanent structural restoration works.

      Just a few weeks ago, Garland had also stated that over 100 of the 1,200 bridges in Fiji which have been assessed as “high priority” require immediate repair or replacement.

      He said overloading is costing Fiji over $30M per year.

      The Fiji Roads Authority was allocated a record $635.7 million to upgrade and repair roads around the country this year.

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      Consumers should brace themselves for duty and tax increases for some items when the 2016/2017 National Budget is announced by Finance Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at 7.30 tomorrow night.

      Consumer Council of Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Premila Kumar says they are hoping that there will be significant tariff increases on sugar sweetened drinks, cigarettes and alcohol.

      Kumar says they hope there won’t be tax and duty increases on food items.

      Kumar says the Consumer Council has also proposed a restructure of the duties and taxes.

      She says the tariff lines should be simplified for the consumers and traders.

      The Consumer Council also wants to see healthy products to be made more affordable.

      Kumar says they have noticed that unhealthy products like white long loaf bread and flour are under price control.

      The council wants par-boiled rice, brown rice, roti flour and other healthy options to be put under price control.

      Kumar has also made a submission that a Financial Ombudsman should be appointed as the financial services sector needs to be held more accountable.

      They have also called for the removal of the 3 percent Credit Card Levy.

      Kumar says the Reserve Bank of Fiji should also monitor the Credit Card Surcharge.

      The council is proposing that a new legislation should be introduced to heavily penalize traders who are profiteering from the Credit Card Surcharge.

      Kumar is also calling for proper standards to be set for the second hand clothes dealers.

      She says the prices of second hand clothes are the same as new clothes.

      The council says this should never be the case as the duty on imported second hand clothes is 96 cents per kilogram.

      Kumar says hygiene is also a major issue and there should be no selling of used undergarments by the second hand clothes dealers.

      The Consumer Council says the two most important issues for consumers is cost of living and affordable housing, and they hope that some good news comes their way tomorrow night.

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      The Ministry of Youth and Sports is expecting a decrease in their 2016/2017 budget compared to the money they received this year.

      Minister Laisenia Tuitubou says this year was big because of government’s support towards the Rio Olympics, Oceania Weightlifting and Swimming Championships, the hosting of the Super Rugby match and the Fiji International Golf Tournament in Natadola.

      $22.5 million was allocated to the Ministry of Youth and Sports this year to support all these events.

      Tuitubou says they have submitted their request to the Ministry of Finance after receiving requests from the Fiji Sports Commission.

      He adds that they have made submissions for the government to continue its support for overseas coaches and funding overseas tours.

      Last year, Government allocated $2.2 million for the Crusaders vs Chiefs Super Rugby match to be held next week.

      $9 million has been allocated for the Fiji International Golf Tournament in Natadola.

      Meanwhile the FMF National Gymnasium in Suva will be upgraded this year as the Fiji Sports Council has received funding for this project.

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      SODELPA parliamentarian, Mikaele Leawere is calling on the government to increase the salaries of teachers by five percent in the 2016/2017 National Budget.

      Leawere says there is a need to empower teachers through a salary increase because the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston has affected all civil servants especially those in remote areas.

      He says teachers are what keeps the world going and the government should give them the pay increase they rightfully deserve.

      Minister for Education, Dr. Mahendra Reddy says he will not be able to comment on the issue at this stage.

      The 2017 National Budget will be delivered by the Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at 7.30pm next Wednesday.

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      The 2017 National Budget will seek to strengthen the fight on violence against women and children through offering further support to the National Child Helpline and the soon to be established Domestic Violence Helpline.

      Facilitated by Medical Services Pacific, the National Child Helpline was launched in April last year.

      Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Josefa Koroivueta says there will be further support for these initiatives.

      He says in 2017 there would be the rearrangement of their business priorities and services but not losing out on the rationale behind it.

      Koroivueta says they will award a tender soon to the appropriate service provider who will help set up the 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline.

      The Domestic Violence Helpline has a budgetary allocation of $170,000 for this year.

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      The abuse of government resources was a topic of discussion at the National Budget Consultation at Suva Grammar School.

      A Year 13 student of Suva Sangam College asked the Attorney General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on how the government plans to ensure that hospitals are fully equipped through the 2017 National Budget.

      The Minister for Finance replied by saying that we have a huge issue with stealing.

      Sayed-Khaiyum said there have been instances where staff and patients have allegedly walked away with items at the hospital.

      He said it is our collective responsibility to ensure that this does not happen.

      Students also raised issues that they faced after Cyclone Winston and also the prioritisation of resources to schools around the country.

      Close to 300 students were present at the consulation.

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      Students raised issues which they faced daily at the National Budget Consultation at Suva Grammar School yesterday.

      The consultation was attended by the Attorney General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

      A Year 12 student of Saint Vincent College said their girls hostel was severely affected by Cyclone Winston and at least 85 girls are staying in two classrooms.

      She said there was a real issue of overcrowding.

      There was also a request made by a Year 13 student of Vashist Muni College if a bus shelter could be provided for students in the school.

      She said students faced a big problem during rainy weather.

      A Year 13 student of Naitasiri Secondary School also questioned how the government prioritises the distribution of resources to schools.

      She said that although she is the only computer student, there were no computers in her school.

      Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government has a focused priority on education in Fiji.

      Sayed-Khaiyum told students at the consultation that the government cannot do everything at once.

      He says we need to priotise areas that will help us realise our full potential.

      He also says the government will continue to grant free education in the 2017 National Budget and that all submissions made at the consultation will be taken into account.

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      Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho said improving the welfare of his officers is one of the issues he will try to address through the 2017 National Budget.

      Qiliho has confirmed that he has made a submission for the National Budget to get special constable hours paid off.

      He said there was positive discussion during the budget consultations and they are looking forward to making further comments on that when the Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum makes the announcement.

      He also said that they are expecting another 14 cars to be given by the government soon to boost their service delivery.

      The National Budget will be announced at 7.30pm on June 22nd.

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      The National Budget for the next financial year will be announced on the 22nd of this month.

      Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced this at Labasa College this morning during the National Budget forum.

      For the first time, the National Budget address will start at 7.30pm.

      Sayed-Khaiyum adds accounting firms and journalists will also have a longer period of time before the National budget address to make analysis on the National budget.

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      The Minister for Finance and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has talked about the need for more investment in human capital at the National Budget consultations in the Western Division.

      Speaking at Natabua High School, Sayed-Khaiyum said while there may be positive economic growth in the country there are still a number of legal, social and economic issues that we need to improve.

      He said the government is focused on creating sustainable employment for ordinary Fijians in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston.

      Sayed-Khaiyum also said we need to increase the rate of home-ownership to solve the huge housing problem especially in squatter settlements.

      The Minister for Finance continued to stress that the 2017 National Budget would be focused on developing a broader based economy and that they are prioritizing funding for policies focused on boosting our climate resilience and rebuilding from the cyclone.

      He also said that Fiji has been neglecting the maintaining of its assets over the years.

      The government fiscal year will now begin from August 1st and end on July 31st.

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      Attorney General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has said the upcoming budget will focus on promoting inclusivity and broad-based growth.

      He said this will allow the government to continue creating sustainable employment for ordinary Fijians in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston.

      Sayed-Khaiyum has highlighted that they are prioritising funding for policies focussed on boosting our climate resilience and rebuilding from the cyclone.

      Government ministries, departments and other agencies have begun submitting funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year this week at the 2016-2017 National Budget Consultations.

      Sayed-Khaiyum is encouraging members of the public to submit written submissions on their ideas and suggestions for the 2016-2017 National Budget.

      The Minister for Finance is scheduled to meet with key non-government organisations and other stakeholders in the coming days.

      The government fiscal year will now begin from August 1st and end on July 31st.