7 Jul 2008

Call for Fiji's interim Finance Minister to be sacked over bottled water tax

8:10 pm on 7 July 2008

Fiji's former opposition leader Mick Beddoes has called for the interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry to be sacked over the imposition of a new duty on bottled water products.

All companies that bottle water in Fiji have decided to stop selling their products, in protest against the interim administration's decision to slap a 20 percent tax on every litre of water they sell.

Mr Chaudhry has justified the new policy as a conservation strategy, describing it as a compensation for "Fiji's scarce natural resource" - water.

The companies have warned the move could be the death knell for one of Fiji's most lucrative industries.

Mr Beddoes says the decision sends the signal to international investors that the government interferes in the private sector:

"And he should be fired. If I was the Prime Minister of Fiji, I would've fired him this morning. That is not a government that understands or relates to good business or good governance. This is cowboy stuff and therefore, it's quite outrageous."

Mick Beddoes