25 Jul 2008

Confusion over tax status of Fiji bottled water exports

10:26 am on 25 July 2008

There is uncertainty in Fiji over whether a tax imposed on water bottling companies has been rescinded.

A meeting on Wednesday involving key interim regime members dropped the tax plan after the water bottling companies decided to stop production with the ensuing loss of hundreds of jobs.

However, the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, who wasn't at the meeting, is now reported as saying that the tax still stands.

In his view, the decision was made by the interim cabinet which is now said to be meeting today again to review the matter.

The aim of the tax was to return to the Fiji public some money for the companies using the water resource.

While the tax was reportedly abolished, the interim regime and the bottling companies agreed that a levy was to be imposed but its size was yet to be determined.

Yesterday, the Fijilive website reported that members of the military council pushed for the ouster of Mr Chaudhry from the interim government for unspecified reasons.

However, the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, said Mr Chaudhry would stay in his position.