Show compassion and remove extra fuel tax immediately
November 30, 2021
Government must show compassion and fulfil its obligatory social responsibility by immediately removing the 20 cents per litre extra duty on fuel imposed from 1st April last year, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said the extra fuel tax is now having a crippling effect due to the escalating price of fuel following the latest fuel price hike that has hit the roof.
“It is unsustainable and unaffordable especially in an environment of economic stagnation”.
“This will lead to further increases to cost of goods and transportation charges”.
“The price of motor spirit is $2.75 per litre, kerosene price has increased by 25 cents per litre and now costs $1.82, a litre of diesel will now cost $2.31 and premix is now $2.35 per litre”.
“This will severely hurt the pockets of ordinary and poor people. How does government expect at least 50% of our population who are in poverty or living on the margins of poverty to regularly fork out $1.82 for a litre of kerosene to cook meals for their families?”
“The imposition of an extra 20 cents per litre duty from April 2020 has raked in millions of dollars in revenue for government, which has failed to remove it when prices started rising a year ago”.
“On 26th March,2020, while delivering the Covid-19 Response Budget, the Minister for Economy justified the imposition of the 20 cents per litre extra duty by saying the fuel prices were at their lowest due to dramatic reductions in world fuel price”.
“He had then stated that despite the imposition of the additional tax, people would still enjoy one of the lowest prices in the world. This has evaporated into thin air”.
“It is the duty of any government to pass on the benefits of any price reduction to the people as part of its social obligation. For 20 months now, this government has extracted extra revenue by imposing duty”.
“Therefore, people never fully benefitted from the low fuel price last year”.
“The latest hike makes fuel prices exorbitant and unaffordable specially in an economically depressed climate. It has a flow-on effect and will also increase delivery of services and cost of doing business which directly or indirectly are reliant on fuel”.
“We are aware of the Minister’s public statement that he made from Singapore at the beginning of March this year, saying the NFP should make submissions via budget consultations and not play populist politics by asking for the removal of the additional tax”.
“Seeking relief for the ordinary people of Fiji at a time when they are struggling to maintain their livelihood and put food on the table is not populist politics but our moral and ethical duty to do so”.
“Cabinet Ministers are not severely affected by the hike. Apart from their private trips, they don’t have to pay for fuel for their Government Prado’s. The taxpayers fund their fuel bills”.
“Government now must do the right thing by the people and immediately remove the 20 cents per litre extra tax, which is becoming a severe financial burden on ordinary people and small businesses, which are struggling to survive”.
Professor Biman Prasad