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Abraham Surprised By Attack

Abraham Surprised By Attack
September 06
11:36 2018

Baseless attacks against the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) is not the way to educate members of the public by politicians for their own political agenda, says the organisation’s chief executive Officer Joel Abraham.

Mr Abraham was responding to a statement released yesterday by the National Federation Party (NFP) Leader Biman Prasad calling for his resignation.

Mr Prasad claimed that Mr Abraham publicly displayed “blatant political bias” towards the current government when he told Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) News that those holding pocket meetings with people were lying about reducing the cost of living.

Though Mr Abraham did not specifically name any political party, Mr Prasad said Mr Abraham does not have the courage to name the provisional candidate and the party, adding that it was obvious that he was referring to NFP.

“It is the only party that has in the last 14 months publicly announced it will reduce the cost of living by removing Value Added Tax (VAT) from 15 basic food items as well as reducing duty on them and other selected essential goods,” Mr Prasad said.

Mr Abraham responded saying he was very surprised to see NFP’s statement attacking him and the Commission given that he never once mentioned any political party.

“My comment spoke to the lack of economic understanding behind the question: it would be impossible to implement such a radical and unrealistic policy without grinding the Fijian economy to a halt and forcing many Fijian businesses to close their doors,” Mr Abraham said.

“That is why I completely stand by my response to a concerned member of the public when I said it would take a magical formula to immediately reduce the cost of all food products in Fiji by 20 per cent.”

He said FCCC is an independent statutory body and it is their job to ensure there is fair competition in the market so that consumers are granted the most affordable prices possible and have access to a wide selection of goods in the marketplace.

“The FCCC also monitors price-controlled items and has been imbued with new authority to combat monopolistic practices from wholesalers and retailers in Fiji,” Mr Abraham said.

“I regularly respond to queries from the public and offer my analysis to ensure consumers have complete and accurate information when operating in the marketplace.”

It is the job of FCCC to find measured, market-based solutions to protect Fijian consumers and create competition to bring down prices; to do so we are guided by the facts, not by politics.”

He added that he was even more surprised to see the statement reference, the NFP’s political agenda relating to VAT and duty concessions, given that he never mentioned either in his response.

“It only takes a basic knowledge of market economics to understand that VAT and duty concessions alone cannot possibly affect a 20 per cent decrease in all food prices,” he said.

He urged NFP to adopt the same commitment to integrity and to honest and transparent communication with the public that FCCC proudly upholds.

In his statement Mr Prasad said Mr Abraham has totally compromised the neutrality and independence of his position as well as that of the institution.

“He should have remained apolitical and completely refrained from making political comments,” Mr Prasad said.

“His comment, which is a campaign statement is also intimidating voters. He is basically accusing us of making false promises. Who is he to judge our credibility?

“It is obvious people would have asked him whether cost of living could be reduced. Instead he makes a political statement”. If Mr Abraham wants to behave like a politician, he should resign his position and contest the general elections and tell them why the cost of living cannot be reduced despite it being the number one concern of 50 per cent of our people,” Mr Prasad said.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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