Fiji Opposition Leader Outlines Priorities Ahead of National Budget Announcement

In anticipation of the People’s Coalition Government’s budget announcement for the 2024-2025 financial year, Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu outlined his caucus’ key priorities, highlighting the need for improved social protection and targeted investments in key sectors.

“We have stated that anything to do with assistance to the poor, particularly in terms of social protection, welfare assistance, supporting education as well,” Seruiratu said. “The key priorities are health and education. We always acknowledge that, and we give credit where it is due. But at the same time, as the alternative government and as members of the opposition, we also criticise special sectors, areas that we feel the government can do better. That has always been the challenge.”

Seruiratu highlighted the importance of supporting Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), given their role in employment creation and economic empowerment.

“MSMEs create employment, support our youths and our women, and probably focus on employment creation so that they become employers rather than employees as well,” he stated.

The opposition leader also called for increased investment in resource-based and primary industries, which he believes are crucial for widening Fiji’s economic base.

“The primary-based industry has always been critical for us. We have been talking about primary-based industries and resource-based industries for a long time, and this is where we need to make special efforts in investments so that they can contribute more to the economic pie,” he said.

This will be the second budget by the People’s Coalition Government since they came to power following the 2022 General Election. Their first budget for the 2023-2024 financial year, presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad, was heavily focused on post-COVID-19 economic recovery. The previous budget included measures to simplify the tax system, increase corporate income tax, and adjust VAT rates, with a significant focus on health, education, and social welfare.

The 2023-2024 budget projected government revenue at $3.7 billion and expenditures at $4.3 billion, resulting in a $639 million deficit (4.8% of GDP). Government debt was forecasted to decrease to 79% of GDP by July 2024. Key allocations included increased funding for education, health, and water infrastructure, a new scholarship scheme, and expanded social welfare benefits.

The 2024-2025 National Budget is scheduled to be announced at 10am tomorrow in Suva.

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