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The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after the 2017/2018 national budget announcement on June 29, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau
June 30
11:54 2017

Tax relief, pay rises, increased social benefits and sweet sugar deals are part of a ‘People’s Budget’ announced in Parliament last night.

While delivering the $4.357 billion Budget for 2017–2018, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said it was designed to empower people.

He said it was a progressive and people centered Budget.

The estimated revenue is $3.85 billion. The estimated net deficit is $499.508 million.

These are some of the highlights of the Budget:

Income tax threshold has been increased from $16,000 to $30,000.

That means more workers will not pay tax;

Government Wage Earners will receive an average increase of 14.3 per cent and common cadre positions will receive an average increase of 15.8 per cent;

Minimum wage for unskilled workers has been increased from $2.32 to $2.68 an hour.

These are not for those who are part of the 10 sectoral based wages councils;

Civil servants will get increment based on merit n 800 specialist nurses will get salary increases of up to 25 per cent above the general nursing positions while nurse practitioners will receive salary increases of up to 74 per cent for working in rural and remote areas;

Teachers will receive an average of 14.3 per cent pay rise while school heads and administration get 13.8 per cent n

Police base salaries to increase ranging from 11.5 per cent to 20.5 per cent.

Monthly allowance for all households under the Poverty Benefit Scheme are increased from $160 to $177, inclusive of $50 food voucher to give

more assistance to those who need it most;

The Child Protection Allowance will also rise from $110 to $119 per child per month, inclusive of $50 food voucher to care for children in difficult situations

The food voucher for rural pregnant mothers will also be increased from $30 to $50 to take better care of expectant mothers;

The Social Pension Scheme allowance has been doubled from $50 to $100 per month and eligibility age is lowered from 66 to 65 years to assist the elderly;

New funding of $7.97 million will support allowances for citizens with disabilities with monthly allowances of $90 per person;

TELS Student allowance for semester-based students is increased to $6600 from $4434.

Trimester-based student allowance is increased to $7125 for annum from $5736;

Turaga-ni-koro (village headmen) will have their monthly allowance increased from $75 to $87;

Freeze on taxi, minibus and carrier permits to be lifted from 1 January 2018.

Priority given to applications received during the freeze period$2 million set aside for land and assistance for new sugar cane farmers; and n Reserve Bank of Fiji has increased funds available for affordable housing from $25 million to $60 million.

Government has granted an exclusive casino licence to the Fiji National Provident Fund to construct a new casino.

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki


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