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Minister of Economy clarifies incorrect information by Archbishop

October 11, 2018 7:30 pm

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has made clarifications to the letter that was published by the Catholic Church and distributed to their members over the weekend.

In a statement, Sayed-Khaiyum says the letter contained wildly inaccurate information on poverty rates and income inequality in the country.

Sayed-Khaiyum says while an apology has been issued by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, the record must be fully corrected.

He says given the number of concerned Fijians who have brought the newsletter issued by the Head of Catholic Church to their attention, they will provide the truth for Fijians on the strong record of government in lifting Fijian families out of poverty.

He says the household income and expenditure survey is the only authoritative source that measures statistics in Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum adds the survey shows that rural poverty has decreased from 43% in 2008–2009 to 36.7% in 2013–2014 while urban poverty has decreased from around 28% in 2002-2003 to 19.8% in 2013-2014.

The letter mentioned that tax reforms are only benefiting the wealthy.

The Minister for Economy says the country’s tax system is becoming fairer and disadvantaged Fijians are paying less taxes because of the reforms that have put in place.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that they have brought down VAT across the board from 15% to 0% and Fijians who earn below $30, 000 don’t pay tax at all.

He says that they are taxing smarter not harder.

The Minister for Economy mentions that they have targeted taxation on non-essential services to help fund programmes that directly assist disadvantaged Fijians.

Sayed-Khaiyum says that they have closed loopholes that were used for years to evade our taxation system and leave the tax burden on disadvantaged Fijian families.

He says those days are over.

He adds that the latest study by the International Monetary Fund has showed the gap between the rich and the disadvantaged is decreasing in Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum says income inequality as measures by the Gini coefficient is going down from 40.4 in 2008 to 36.4 in 2013.