November 6, 2015. The Consumer Council of Fiji welcomes the 2016 National Budget announcement, particularly, the Government’s commitment to ensuring all duty reductions are passed by the traders/retailers to all consumers.
We applaud the allocation of $150, 000 to the Council to set up a ‘hotline’ for consumers to lodge complaints against businesses that do not pass down tax and duty reductions on goods and services.
For years now, the Council had been lobbying for state intervention to ensure tougher monitoring measures to be put in place so that traders/retailers pass on the duty reductions to all consumers.
The Council expects traders and service providers to decrease retail prices as the Government has reduced duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on certain products.
It is good news that the Government has introduced measures to ensure traders pass down the duty reductions to the consumers.
One of this is the introduction of a penalty of $50,000 and upon conviction to a fine of up to $100,000 or 5 years imprisonment for traders who do not comply with the laws.
The Council has in the past raised that Government’s effort to reduce duty did not trickle down to all consumers. The other positive announcement is the Government’s continuous commitment to raising the standard of medical care and making our health system modern.
We applaud the state’s effort to inject more funds in hiring additional doctors and nurses around the country and improving Fiji’s health care system.
The Council also commends the Government for reducing duty on diabetes testing kits and strips from 5% to 0%. This was one of the requests made by the Council in its budget submission.
The Council also requested for an increase in tax on unhealthy foods and beverages. Government has responded by introducing 5 cents per litre Health Levy on sugar sweetened drinks; and 6% Health Levy on tobacco and alcohol.
This will certainly help in containing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which the Council has high on its agenda. Reduced duty on bicycle from 5% to 0% and improving in sporting facilities will also facilitate the national effort in making Fijians healthier.
The Council notes the reduction of VAT from 15% to 9%. This decrease in the consumption tax will mean a drop in the retail prices of goods and services for consumers.
The savings will result in consumers having more money to spend. While VAT has been re-introduced on basic food items and kerosene, consumers will be benefiting more from the reduction of VAT to 9% on all goods and services.
We are pleased with the Government’s initiative to reduce duty on items such as deodorants, baby garments, adult underpants, skin care products, sanitary pads and diapers. This will again ease the financial burden on consumers.