14 Nov 2006

Fiii's opposition leader attacks government over budget

10:43 am on 14 November 2006

Fiji's opposition leader has opened debate on the government's 2007 budget with a scathing attack on the country's top civil servants.

Mick Beddoes has described the budget as lazy, unimaginative and regressive.

He says this was because the 36 chief executive officers who cost the government over 3-point-6 million US dollars a year did not use their collective brain power to devise ways of increasing revenue without hurting the people they serve.

Instead they took the lazy option of increasing Value Added Tax by another 2 and a half per cent to generate another 51-million US dollars.

Mr Beddoes says the private sector would always look at ways of decreasing costs because increasing charges results in the loss of customers.

He says 36 CEOs could have come up with measures to cut costs and generate growth because an expanding economy could have provided the revenue that the government is seeking to raise.

Mr Beddoes says the high levels of abuse, mismanagement and incompetence in the civil service have resulted in the loss of funds which could have been used to assist the poor being lost forever.

He says this has all been allowed to happen because of the lack of accountability in the civil service.

Highlighting scams and abuse totaling over 53-million US dollars Mr Beddoes says the system still accommodates people who blow millions of taxpayers' dollars , and never lose a day's pay or a night's sleep.