DOLLAR DOWN, VAT UP as loans take their toll!

  • 28th August 2015
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Finance Minister Khaiyum with help from a partisan Speaker, parldebased the institution of Parliament behind locked doors yesterday.

But what really confounded the onlooker was the ease with which Members of the Opposition allowed themselves to be locked in like prisoners, to submit to Khaiyum’s whims!

What happened in Parliament yesterday was well and truly a Black Day in the annals of Fiji’s parliamentary history.

There is such a thing as dignity and self-respect that Members of Parliament must uphold at all times. They were under no compulsion to accede to the regime’s autocratic demands and be treated in such an undignified manner.

There were options available to the Opposition which they failed to exercise. They have a duty to the people of Fiji not to concede to the government’s secretive style of operation.

After all, in their election campaign all of them promised accountability and transparency in governance. One wonders what happened to these promises?

It is also worrying that not one media organization questioned what happened in Parliament yesterday. Everyone, media plus MPs, succumbed to the scare tactics of observing silence on the issue. MPs were told they could not divulge any information on the secret session for at least a week. And they meekly succumbed.

What a joke! We have a Mickey Mouse parliament, indeed!

BUT, the cat is now out of the bag – we all know, as was speculated yesterday, that the secret session was linked to government finances. It is now revealed through the social media that parliamentary approval was sought by Khaiyum to the measures the FF government proposed for the repayment of the USD 250 million international Bond issue.

From all available indications it is certain that the regime will borrow again to pay off the bond holders as it did in 2011 when discharging the USD150 million Bond issue raised by the Qarase government in 2006 but which it was unable to utilize because of the Bainimarama coup.

All we can say for the present is that there will be serious ramifications of this transaction on Fiji’s economy. The cost to the taxpayer will be high- .he could even be looking at a hike in VAT to 17.5% or even 20% come the next Budget. Arbitrary increases in fees and charges for government services are sure to follow as some of the Chinese and Malaysian loans come up for payment.

A devaluation of the Fiji dollar cannot be ruled out as there is pressure from the IMF to review the exchange rate.