Labour is calling on government to restore the FNPF annuity rate to 15%, slashed 50% in 2012. This will be one of the key resolutions at the Party’s delegates conference in Nadi tomorrow.
Key speaker at the conference will be Daniel Urai, National President,
Fiji Trades Union Congress. He will speak on trade union rights.
The conference will be held at the headquarters of the National Union of Hotel and Catering Employees, 11 Sharma Street, Narewa, Nadi, starting at 10am. The convention will be followed by the FLP Delegates Conference.
Labour says the current annuity rate of 8% is abysmally low, taking account of the extremely poor wage levels of the ordinary workers who comprise around 60% of the nation’s workforce. The arbitrary reduction imposed on FNPF members in 2012 has also caused great hardship to pensioners whose pensions were slashed by 50%, reducing many of them to below poverty level income.
“The Bainimarama government has done grave injustice to the workers by reducing their retirement earnings by half while approving huge increases in salaries and allowances for the PM and Cabinet Ministers. Based on these salary increases, PM Bainimarama chalks up a hefty $60,000 plus annually in his FNPF account on his salary of $328,000 pa. More than half his contribution is paid by the tax payers,” says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Other issues of national concern to be discussed by the conference include calls on government to:
- allow the option of cash payment of bus fares to accommodate those who are unable to fork out lump sum money for E-tickets. This can run parallel to E-ticketing.
Labour says the payment of bus fares by legal tender (cash) is a right of the people and this should not be subverted for the purposes of tax (VAT) collection.
- grant official recognition to the Public Sector Unions as sole bargaining agents for the terms and conditions of employment of their members and to observe the collective bargaining provisions of the Employment Relations Act and ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
- revert the retirement age in the public service to 60 and desist from imposing short-term individual employment contracts on employees in the public service, statutory bodies and government commercial companies.
- stop harassment of the business community by the indiscriminate imposition of numerous taxes and levies which dig deep into the cost of doing business.
Recurring increases in excise and stamp duties, business licences, and fees and charges for government services act as disincentives to business expansion and development, with consequent loss of job opportunities for our people.
These taxes and levies are in addition to VAT and corporate tax, making Fiji one of the most heavily taxed countries in the region.
Small and medium sized businesses are placed at great disadvantage as a consequence of the high administrative and compliance costs involved, resulting in the closure or downsizing of many such businesses.
The frequent increases in the rates and the imposition of new taxes are nothing short of extraordinary revenue measures to raise cash for Fiji’s ballooning foreign debt repayments under the Fiji First government.
Labour will undertake a comprehensive review of Fiji’s tax regime to reduce the cost of doing business and encourage businesses to expand to create jobs for our young men and women.
Other speakers at the convention tomorrow:
- Ganesh Chand – the need for a united Opposition front for the 2018 general elections
- Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry – why the 2018 general elections will not be free, fair and credible.