22 Nov 2002

Fiji moves to stop anti-tax protests

12:45 pm on 22 November 2002

Authorities in Fiji have issued orders to all divisional police commanders to suspend applications for protest marches tomorrow.

The orders were given late yesterday as several groups sought permission to stage protests against the 25 per cent increase in Value added Tax on all goods and services.

The Fiji-wide protests were planned by the 12-member NGO Coalition on Human Rights, the Fiji Public Service Association and the National Farmers Union.

A meeting of the National Security Council, headed by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is expected to discuss the issue today.

The protestors say the imposition of Value Added Tax on poor people and its recent increase from ten per cent to 1twelve and a half per cent is immoral when the government has failed to collect more than 50 million US dollars in unpaid taxes from the rich.

Meanwhile, the tax has continued to come under attack in parliament, with the Labour Party's Pratap Chand describing it as "daylight robbery of the poor" as part of "a Dracula budget."