2 Nov 2005

Fiji NGO calls for tax on basic food to be lifted

5:16 pm on 2 November 2005

A Fiji NGO, the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy, has called for significant changes in the tax system to support the poor.

The call was made ahead of Thursday's presentation of the 2006 budget.

The economic coordinator for justice of the church-based NGO, Father Kevin Barr, says the government should remove the 12.5 percent value added tax from basic food items.

He also calls for another way to distribute the funds.

However, the minister of Social Welfare, Adi Asenaca Caucau, says there are better ways to help the poor.

"There is also a reason why to protect everybody's standing in this regard especially because if you remove it from the basic items, the rich will continue and not be paying tax."

Adi Asenaca says it would be, as she put it, too cost-expensive to remove taxes just for the poor and continue taxing those who are well-off.