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Business Community Gathers to Contribute to National Budget

Business Community Gathers to Contribute to National Budget
The acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Photo: LUISA QIOLEVU
September 27
10:15 2015

In bid to deliver an effective national budget, Government yesterday provided the members of the business community the opportunity to put forward their submissions from their various sectors.

Faith organisations, trade unions and NGOs were also present at the 2015 Budget Forum held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

The 2015 National Budget will be delivered on November 6. The Minister of Finance and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said:

“At the end of the day, it is Government’s prerogative to determine the budget.

“But we want to be able to determine a budget which has as much participation as possible from all the various sectors within our society.”

The forum was organised in a manner where members from the same sectors were teamed to bring forth discussions through presentations.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said through the method of the forum, members and Government would then be able see the types of issues faced in the economy.

Past Issues
Through the past forum sessions, there have been a number of issues that the Minister for Finance highlighted.

He said: “I think in the budget formulations we normally find as a ministry is that there is always a competing interest.

“We also have on the other hand a number of issues where some NGOs may have a particular interest in terms of advocating a particular area in the economy and they do not necessarily have a face-to-face dialogue with the others.

“We have the consumer rights people also. They will also have a general overview of financial services – maybe of how the construction industry operates.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added: “Faith-based organisations, for example, we sometimes on a weekly basis, get written submissions to give them a waiver on duties.
“Some faith-based organisation has decided they have some donor in Australia, NZ or USA and they are sending some furniture down for their school in Ba – and we want a concession.

“There are discretionary powers that the minister has to waive that duty. But we want to be consistent about that.”

He explained sometimes the analysis that may be done by Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority or Ministry of Finance officials may be a bit skewed.

“Therefore, we want general rules about it. Maybe the person writing up the brief does go to a particular denomination of church and they may recommend giving the waiver.

“But when another denomination sends in their application, they may say don’t give the waiver because we need to not lose any revenue from tariffs.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said these were the kind of constant issues that they had faced in the past.
“There are some wider issues that we would love to get your input on as we mentioned last year,” he deliberated.

“For example when we are generally talking about finance there is a gap and we identified last year that we need to set up a venture finance company and we still want to do that. We hope to hear from the financial sector and private sector on that.”

Purpose
The Budget Forum serves as a platform to raise concerns and contribute to a wider good for the economy.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “The whole idea is hearing your feedback. We also want to be able to get you to talk to each other and hear from each other as to what are those interests and have a better understanding.”

Feedback: rachael.nath@fijisun.com.fj

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