Dialogue Fiji has commended the Fiji Government for the balanced approach taken in the 2023-2024 Budget but also calls for effective utilisation of allocated funds and strict monitoring.
Executive Director Nilesh Lal said measures outlined in the budget drive the economy as well as address sectoral and stakeholder needs.
“Contrary to speculation, the government has generally refrained from implementing extensive austerity measures to bolster revenue generation, apart from the increase in VAT to 15% and the increases in corporate tax. By avoiding significant spending cuts, the government has recognised the importance of proportionate state spending in a state-driven economy like Fiji’s. However, it is very integral that spending efficiency is increased, to maximise returns on every taxpayer dollar spent,” Lal said.
He believes the budget dispels market uncertainties and negative speculation, urging an end to politically motivated rhetoric regarding Fiji’s debt sustainability.
Lal highlights the need to boost private sector confidence, a factor critical in not only harnessing the current growth momentum but also achieving intended outcomes.
He also welcomed the focus on agriculture, and the increase in social welfare allowances considering the potential inflationary effects of the VAT hike, noting as well the need for a fair and transparent system in the distribution of the latter to ensure those most in need are catered for.
Lal also commended Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad and the Ministry of Finance for striking a balance in addressing the demands of the three different political parties in the coalition government saying it “underscores the government’s commitment to inclusive decision-making and consensus-building.”
The budget was released on Friday, June 30, and it is scheduled to be debated next week, starting Monday, July 10.