"This government is absolutely lost. They have neither the capacity nor the ability to handle a crisis of this magnitude. There is no proper planning. The Prime Minister is going around distributing tons of food at villages he is visiting, much more than the immediate requirement while other desperate victims around the country are starving."
Why are VAT and Duty exemptions not permitted on Cyclone Winston relief donations of food and other essential supplies sent by donors overseas to NGOs and charitable organisations?
A communication from the Planning and Aid Coordination Unit issued today said that to qualify for VAT and duty exemptions all donations must be channelled through the National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO).
In the past exemptions were given to NGOs and charitable/religious organisations receiving relief supplies from abroad, subject to satisfying certain conditions stipulated by FRCA.
It is a fact that many private donors do not have confidence in the government machinery to deliver aid fairly to the victims of all communities. As such, they choose to direct their assistance through credible organisations of their choice.
By requiring the payment of VAT and Duty, the Bainimarama government is adding substantially to the cost to the donors thereby discouraging them from donating, and in turn, depriving the desperate victims of the assistance they so urgently need.
Why the departure from past practice this time around?
We urge the authorities to reconsider the matter and revert to previous practice.
We also suggest that VAT be exempted for local donors on purchase of food and other essential supplies for victims of the cyclone.
Due to the high volume of interest from overseas organisations and individuals, donors can now also request duty and VAT exemption directly from the Ministry of Finance. Items will be approved for exemption that can provide immediate relief for victims of Tropical Cyclone Winston.
In order to be approved for exemption, formal requests need to be submitted to Principal Economic Officer Mohammed Jabid via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone (679) 932-5703.
Once an approval letter has been granted, shipments need to be addressed to:
(Name of the receipt individual or organisation) or (National Disaster Management Office)
C/ Attorney General and Minister for Finance
Ministry of Finance
The Government of Fiji
Upon shipment, donors need to provide the Airway Bill or Bill of Landing, an invoice of the value of goods being shipped and the approval letter granted by the Ministry of Finance.
Vehicles, jewellery and any normally prohibited items are not covered under this exemption.
We thank those overseas who are keen to donate relief materials to affected Fijians. The need in Fiji remains great, and the Fijian Government is working hard to meet the urgent needs of our people. Every donation makes a difference for those Fijians who have suffered from the devastation this storm has brought to our shores.
These guidelines are also available on the Fijian Government website