21 Nov 2008

Fiji interim regime tables 2009 budget

6:03 pm on 21 November 2008

The Fiji interim government has presented its 2009 budget which is to be just under one billion US dollars.

The document was tabled by the interim finance minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who took over the portfolio three months ago.

He says the major focus is infrastructure development, adding that his administration would also ensure economic growth and favour the poor.

He has highlighted that a net deficit of below two per cent of GDP was expected, with total debt of GDP reduced to 47.5 per cent.

Personal incomes of less than 8,000 US dollars a year will continue to be exempt from taxation.

Company tax rates will be lowered from 32 percent to 29 percent.

Economically depressed northern and maritime island regions have been declared tax free zones to encourage investment.

The incentives will include 13 years tax holidays for new companies and import duty exemption on raw materials, machinery and equipment for initial set up.

The budget has allocated 13 million US dollars to tourism Fiji.

The Commodore says marketing is essential and his administration will continue to provide such funding with certain benchmarks to be achieved by Tourism Fiji.

The budget makes no mention of elections next year.

A USP Assoiciate Professor of economics, Azmat Gani, says there are some good things in the budget.

"The Fijiian budgets has a lot of incentive packages and I suppose if the private sector does come in and take advantage of the incentives the government is operating and next year I woould see some positive changes taking place, and the other thing is that it seems that the budget is targetting long term development of the country."

Azmat Gani says he expects to see the real effects of the budget in 2010.