Caption: Premila Kumar. File Photo.
The 2014 National Budget is a ‘winning budget’ for consumers.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is particularly happy with the two key policy announcements by the Government that would address some problem areas for consumers.
One is the establishment of the Consumer Compensation Tribunal and second is the establishment of a taskforce to monitor prices of duty-reduced items.
The Consumer Compensation Tribunal will adjudicate over claims on third party insurance and other consumer complaints.
The price monitoring taskforce which is to be formed in few weeks time will be monitoring prices of products that have had duty reductions. The Council has long argued that duty reductions often do not translate into lower retail prices for consumers.
The Council also welcomes various other initiatives announced in the Budget to assist consumers to cope with the rising cost of living.
The biggest win is Government providing ‘free education’ for all children in both primary and secondary schools. With this, parents will no longer have to worry about education costs which they used to bear in the past . They do not have to spend on school fees, tuition fees or any other fees.
Parents and guardians will be under less pressure with the Government’s policy on fund raising.
The Council is happy that the bus fare scheme, which has received extra funding from the Government, would mean more eligible students will be able to benefit.
The Council also applauds the pay increases for the civil servants – this yet again means less pressure on their pockets and more money to spend.This is not only positive for these consumers but for businesses as well.
The Council overwhelming welcomes zero per cent duty reduction on the following items:
– Food supplements – these food supplements include essential vitamins predominantly used by pregnant mothers and senior citizens; this has been reduced from 32 per cent.
– Baby bottles, existing duty – reduced from 32 per cent to zero percent
– Adult sanitary diapers – reduced from 32 per cent
Among other initiatives –support has also been provided to shipping operators in the uneconomical routes – The Council believes this will benefit consumers in the outer islands.
The Council is encouraging consumers to make use of these initiatives to bring about a change in their living standard. We are also reminding them to continue exercising prudent financial management when spending their money.
Chief Executive Officer