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New budget gets economy back on track: Fiji’s Finance Minister

Friday 14 July 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional


New budget gets economy back on track: Fiji’s Finance Minister
Fiji's leader of opposition Inia Seruiratu, left, and Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka shake hands after the Budget is passed on Thursday, 13 July 2023. Photo: of the Republic of Fiji.

Fiji's Parliament signed off on its 2023-24 national budget on Thursday after four days of debate, which the government says will put the nation "on the right trajectory".

FBC News reports the bill - to appropriate the sum of $FJ3.7 billion for the year ending July 31, 2024 - was read a third time by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Biman Prasad, before a vote was taken.

All 29 government MPs voted in favour of the bill while the 24 opposition MPs voted against it.

Fiji's three-party coalition government revealed its first budget on June 30 since coming to power in December last year.

Professor Prasad said the "budget has fundamentally put the country back on track".

"Since we've come into government, there is a sense of freedom, there is a sense of optimism, there is a sense of exuberance within the country," he said.

"You can look at all the indicators, you look at the indicators with respect to tourism numbers, you look at the spending, you look at the expectations of the investors, the banks are telling us the uptake on loans/borrowings by the private sector is very buoyant.

"So, all the indicators that are there shows that our economy is in the right trajectory."

Prasad said what the budget has done "is to create a fine balance" to look after the Fijian people and ensuring the government's spending on health, education, infrastructure and social welfare "is adequate".

However, the opposition say the budget was not what the government was touting it to be and would make things difficult for ordinary people.

Opposition leader Inia Seruiratu said the "government now faces the reality that it is easily said than done".

"Contrary to what is being said and what we have seen in the last six months is quite worrying," Seruiratu said.

"Common ones are the deterioration in the respect for the rule of law and constitutionalism, appointments of senior civil servants, board membership, quality to service delivery and leadership.

"Sad to say we have to prepare for the worst that is yet to come," he said.