19 Nov 2002

Fiji opposition tables alternative budget

8:09 am on 19 November 2002

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has presented an alternative budget - one that removes the government's increase in value added tax by 25 percent and still produces a budget surplus of nearly 6 million US dollars.

Opening debate in the budget session of parliament, Mr Beddoes said his alternative budget is based on the principle that moderate MPs would not just oppose but present to the people an alternative direction to the one proposed by the government.

The Daily Post reports that Mr Beddoes' proposal sees the retention of most of the government's revenue base but without the extra 30 million US dollars the government is expecting from the increase in the value added tax.

Mr Beddoes says his budget prioritises the promotion of security and good governance, along with poverty alleviation and improving rural and outer island development.

His alternative budget places more emphasis on the improvement of law and order by the imposition of tougher penalties for problem crimes such as rape and drugs, speeding up police procedures and directing state funds to more productive uses.