Minister Koya: 25 Per Cent Is Not $755 Million

He has also criticised media company- Fiji Times for failing to adhere to “basic journalism” when they did not publish clarification provided in parliament from Government side.
25 Mar 2021 10:01
Minister Koya: 25 Per Cent Is Not $755 Million
Acting Minister for Economy Faiyaz Koya.

Acting Minister for Economy Faiyaz Koya has criticised SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka for sharing incorrect information of salaries and savings in Parliament.

He has also criticised media company- Fiji Times for failing to adhere to “basic journalism” when they did not publish clarification provided in parliament from Government side.

“Government wages and salaries is around $1 billion in a financial year. Cutting 25 per cent of the salary of top earners, say Permanent Secretaries and Directors, across Government will not save around $755 million,” Mr Koya said.

“This is a total lie and the SODELPA leader has plucked out the numbers from thin air.

“Saving around $755 million technically means cutting wages and salaries for whole of civil service by around 75 per cent. The Opposition simply wants or are forcing the civil servants to survive with only 25 per cent of their current pay. When making assertion and claims in the Parliament, the Opposition needs to know their math and have their calculations correct,” he said.

Mr Koya said a reduction of 75 per cent in the salaries of the entire civil service would be disastrous.

“A huge reduction as proposed by the Opposition Leader will lead to a significant decline in consumption and business activity, which will only adversely impact the Fijian economy and the livelihoods of Fijians,” he said.

“The fact is that by not cutting civil servants’ salaries, the Fijian Government has enabled, these individuals to support their extended families. The Leader of Opposition, is asking the Fijian Government to disable this support.”

Mr Gavoka had told Parliament on Monday: “Mr Speaker, we can reduce the telecom costs, the purchase of goods and services by $20 million, unallocated debt payments worth $300 million, there are so many things we can do and that we can save about $755 million.”

Senseless, shallow proposal

Mr Koya said: “The suggestion to save $300 million from debt payments is really a very shallow and senseless proposal by the Opposition Leader. Does he understand what he is talking about? Our debt repayments on average per year is around $300 million to $400 million. Is he saying that we should stop paying our debt and default on all debt repayments? If we default on our debt repayments (which we will never do), our credit ratings in the financial market will immediately be downgraded and we will face significant difficulty in raising finance. Imagine the disrepute that will be brought to the nation.

“The Fiji Times did not make any attempts to verify or substantiate the figures before publishing the article. They have yet again gone ahead and published an article that is providing incorrect information and is misleading the Fijian public.”

The Fiji Times response 

The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley said the Minister is not correct. “Our front page story reported Mr Gavoka saying that Government could save $755m by cutting salaries and (we used the word “and”) cutting its expenditure.

“We reported as follows: “SODELPA leader Viliame Gavoka says Government can save $755 million by slashing 25 per cent off the salary of its top earners and cutting out unnecessary expenditure.

“We also reported: “Mr Gavoka said apart from the 25 per cent pay cut for high earners, $20 million could be saved by reducing telecom costs and the purchase of goods and services, $300 million from unallocated debt payments and the remainder from other unnecessary spending. Mr Koya should read his copy of The Fiji Times more carefully.”

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj

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