13 Jul 2017

Fiji opposition challenges govt growth claims

6:55 am on 13 July 2017
NFP leader Biman Prasad.

NFP leader Biman Prasad. Photo: RNZI / Alex Perrottet

The leader of Fiji's opposition National Federation Party says the government's claims of unprecedented growth during its time in power don't hold up.

Dr Biman Prasad, who was also an economist, said some elements of the new Budget are welcomed by his party.

He said pay rises for public servants are good but not enough, while he said they support increases in social welfare payments.

But Dr Prasad said the big concern was what he says was poor management of the economy with an average growth of less than 2 percent annually over the past ten years.

And said the growth over the last three or four years was on the back of large borrowing, tourism and remittances.

"So the real sectors of the economy, if you look at the agriculture sector, if you look at the sugar sector - which has a much bigger multiplier effect on the lives of about 200,000 people, has not performed well," he said.

"And so we are raising serious questions with respect to the government's claims about unprecedented growth. If it is unprecedented we should see that translating into jobs."

The Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Budget lays a platform for his government's strong vision for the country.