It is unethical and immoral because such sale should only be made with the authority of a democratically elected Parliament.
The General Secretary of SODELPA, Mr. Pio Tabaiwali said today that in 2012 Bainimarama’s regime sold government assets to the value of $25 million. Further sales in 2013 are expected to bring in $19 million. In the 2014 Budget asset sales will boost government revenues by $475 million. This revenue will derive from the sale of Government’s shareholding in Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) and from the partial sale of government’s interests in Ports Authority of Fiji (PAF) and Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA).
All three entities were created by previous elected Governments and the Bainimarama regime had no hand in them. However, their operations were severely affected by the impact of the military coup on 5th December, 2006. Their improved performance today has not been due to greater efficiency but by exorbitant charges levied against the people of Fiji.
In the absence of a democratically elected Parliament Mr. Tabaiwalu said that the proposed sale is likely to be decided by the Attorney General and the Prime Minister and then rubber-stamped by the regime’s cabinet. This exercise will amount to gross abuse of office and SODELPA urges the regime not to proceed with the proposed sale.
Lower Tax not likely to persuade private companies to turn public.
The Social Democratic Liberal party (SODELPA) said today that a lower tax rate for companies listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE) will not necessarily persuade private companies to turn public. Instead, this company tax reduction is likely to make the rich richer.
General Secretary of SODELPA, Mr. Pio Tabaiwalu, said that the tax rate for companies listed on the SPSE will be reduced in 2014 from 18.5% to 10%, provided that not less than 40% of the share capital are held by locals. Most of the companies on the SPSE are owned by locals who are already very wealthy. The huge reduction in this tax rate will give them greater wealth, via higher dividend payments. The 2014 Budget will therefore make some of our wealthy people richer.
SODELPA said that private companies are reluctant to list on the SPSE because of the stringent requirements of the Exchange rules. These rules relate to regular financial reporting to the SPSE, audit etc. These rules are of course necessary for the protection of the investing public.
SODELPA is concerned that while the 2014 Budget is generous to those already well off, it has offered little to help the poor.
2014 Budget Not Good for the Poor
The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) said today that the 2014 Budget provides very little to help the poor. General Secretary of SODELPA, Mr. Pio Tabaiwalu said that the seven years from 2007 have been characterised by:
· high unemployment
· high inflation
· very high prices of goods and services;
· alarming increase in the number of people living below the poverty line;
· static wage levels; and
· increasing number of people living in squatter settlements.
And yet the Bainimarama regime has done very little to alleviate these difficulties.
Cumulative inflation since 2007 is well over 30%; wage levels have essentially remained static except for the military; people living below the poverty line is close to 50% of the population; and more than 11,000 families live in squatter settlements.
Mr. Tabaiwalu said that the provision in the 2014 Budget for pay rises for civil servants of 4% to 23% will not compensate for the loss in their purchasing power due to inflation of more than 30% over the period. In fact, even after the wages adjustments in 2014 the position of civil servants will still be worse off than their position prior to the coup of 5th December, 2006. The allocation of $22 million for social welfare payments in 2014 has remained more or less the same for several years, even though people living below the poverty line has jumped from 32% in 2006 to about 50% of the population in 2013. The allocation of only $5 million in the 2014 Budget to assist the more than 11,000 families now living in squatter settlements is ridiculous, reflecting a lack of respect and care for the poor.
The only bright spot in the 2014 Budget for the poor is the proposed free primary and secondary education. But this will be at the expense of other urgent needs in our society. SODELPA believes that all the ills of our society such as poverty, unemployment, inflation, increasing prices etc will worsen during 2014.