Rakiraki residents cannot afford town rates

  • 3rd April 2012
  • 2012
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The plain truth is that Rakiraki as a self-financing municipality is not   viable. The government should not push its obligations on to this rural community which is struggling to survive in the face of a contracting national economy.

Fiji Labour Party has called on the Ministry of Local Government to defer indefinitely the effective date of levying rates in the town of Vaileka, Ra.

The Rakiraki Town Council has sent out written notification to rate payers that it will levy town rates from next month (May 2012).

The residents of Rakiraki have been hit hard by the floods in the past three months. The town and its surrounding areas have been badly devastated, with damage to property and crops running into thousands of dollars.

They received no assistance from the State and have been left to fend for themselves. They simply do not have the capability to take on the added financial burden.

The state of the town’s infrastructure is pathetic, far short of the standard where ratepayers can justifiably be asked to take over its maintenance.

The municipality will have to borrow huge sums to upgrade and seal the roads, install street lights, construct a new two-lane bridge near the market end of the town to replace the existing dilapidated single lane bridge. It also needs to clear badly clogged drains, erect pavement and provide a fully equipped fire brigade. All these will cost millions of dollars which is way beyond what the people can bear.

Rakiraki is a small township, heavily reliant on sugar for its economic sustenance. The severe decline of the sugar industry in the past three years has substantially reduced incomes of the Ra people and its business community.

The plain truth is that Rakiraki as a self-financing municipality is not viable. The government should not push its obligations on to this rural community which is struggling to survive in the face of a contracting national economy.