Trying to tell Investors all is well in Fiji is a blatant lie.
What is the use of setting up tax free zones and tax incentives if you can get military hostility, banned, threatened, locked up, intimidated and beaten to near death for daring to demand accountability or to ask after the truth?
Not to mention tax free zones miles away from any infrastructure (eg Lomaiviti and Lau .. woilei na ulukau kaiveikau! How asinine can one be?! ) .... and by the way what businessperson is going to be lured to an isolated place with no support structure then be expected to give away 25% of his business ? Even Punja the old fox has come out to say it wont work !
Why should tourist and overseas businesses come to Fiji when there is still no respect for the Rule of Law; criminals do not respect the law, the police and the judiciary have been compromised of their independence, and the Fijian human rights watchdog is in bed with military dogma?
It is quite obvious the military are still wrapped up in their own creation of ego, silliness, wannabes and paranoia. They've roped in a few finance "experts" like John Smarmy and given us a whole lot of hot air just like the Giant Babakau theory. The gaping inconsistencies in this so called Budget are such you could drive Iloilo's Hummer through it back and forth all day and not notice.
Good on ya FT .. you have hit the nail on the head.
A slap in the face
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"THE Budget handed down by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday can be best described as being full of contradictions.
While the Budget aims to protect manufacturers by imposing heavy tariffs on imported food items, the interim Government will hurt hotels and the tourism industry which rely on overseas cream, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce and fruit.
Protectionism for the sake of protecting local industry does not work.
Local producers and the State must be capable of producing high quality food, fruit and vegetables before seeking protection.
The interim Government should look at boosting the agriculture sector and improving fruit and vegetable yield, poultry and livestock.
It is nonsensical to argue locals will not be affected because they do not eat the targeted foods. They will be affected through the higher cost of the tourism industry which will have an impact on visitor arrivals.
Why would visitors come to Fiji when it is cheaper to holiday in Samoa, Tonga or at home?
This administration has talked for two years about the people of Fiji being one people and one nation where all are equal. Yet Budget 2009 makes special concessions for indigenous businessmen and their overseas partners in selected industries.
It also encourages tax free businesses in Vanua Levu, Lomaiviti and Lau - predominantly occupied by the indigenous population.
Does this mean that the rhetoric on unity and the proposed People's Charter has been a smokescreen or, worse still, an exercise in hypocrisy?
In recent months the Public Service Commission has warned it will shave the Civil Service of 800 jobs beginning in January 2009.
Yet the Budget documents show an increase in emoluments for most areas of the Civil Service and - not surprisingly - for the army.
Hopefully this does not mean taxpayers must buy back soldiers' unused leave accumulated over the last three decades.
The State salary bill is up by $74million against revised expenditure estimates despite reassurances of a leaner, more efficient Civil Service. The Government operating expenditure has also increased by $120million.
This cannot be allowed to continue.
After so much talk about better control of taxpayers' money, the abuse and misuse of State funds by previous governments, the interim regime has slapped the people of Fiji in the face.
We had hoped for a Budget which would restore confidence. Commodore Bainimarama has done little in that area with Budget 2009."