Pay heed to concerns’

 

Nasik Swami

Fiji Times; page 3; Monday, June 26, 2017

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=406155

THE National Federation Party (NFP) says it expects civil servants and teachers to get a meaningful pay rise in the forthcoming national budget to be announced this Thursday.

Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said an estimated 30 per cent pay rise would ease some financial burden of civil servants who have not had a rise in the past 10 years, apart from some minor salary adjustments.

“A 30 per cent pay rise will only equate to 3 per cent rise or cost of living adjustment for each of the last 10 years. Our civil servants and teachers deserve this,” Prof Prasad said.

“The party also wants the forthcoming national budget to address fundamental concerns of all people, particularly cost of living, unemployment, decent wages and affordable housing.”

He said he expected the FijiFirst Government to pay heed to the concerns of the people, particularly when general election is scheduled for next year.

“We hope it is not an election budget. Our people do not want handouts but practical solutions to enhance their livelihood,” Prof Prasad said.

He urged Government not to deliver a budget based on their “electioneering” plan but one that resolved their fundamental concerns, enhanced people’s livelihood and uplifted their living standards.

“We also hope Government will increase the number of basic food items to 15 from the current seven. And we hope these 15 food items plus prescription medicine are zero-rated or VAT-free.

“In fact, this is an opportunity for the current government to revert to its promise made in its 2014 election manifesto to keep basic food items zero-rated.”

Prof Prasad said he also expected Government to provide subsidies to canegrowers and other agricultural farmers in the form of subsidising weedicides, fertilisers and duty concessions for farm implements.

He said he also expected an increase in social welfare allowances, after care fund for ex-servicemen as well as increase in funds for kidney dialysis.

“We sincerely hope it is a people’s budget and not a budget full of handouts. This is what our people deserve,” Prof Prasad said.