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Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while addressing Parliament today says the COVID-19 economic fallout could be the worst ever economic crisis if the government doesn’t step in to stop it.
Delivering his 2020-21 budget response, the Prime Minister says this budget is important as it prioritizes Fijians and ensures they are taken care of during this pandemic.
He reiterated that they are seeking various ways to ensure increased economic activities in the country.
“The truth is Mr Speaker, no matter who you are or where you are in Fiji – this budget brings relief you need and builds confidence in our economy, bringing us a recovery that we’ve never seen.”
The Prime Minister says this budget provides help to those who need it the most, granting $100 million (US$50 million) in direct government unemployment assistance, not only to those whose jobs have been lost but to those who are working on reduced hours.
Bainimarama said they’ve also consulted with other stakeholders in an effort to assist those Fijians having difficulty in paying their bills.
“Water Authority of Fiji has extended its policy of ensuring impacted families won’t have their water cut off just because they cannot pay their bills. That policy will remain through March of next year. In a 50/50 split with Energy Fiji Limited, Government is directly paying for half of the first 100 units of energy used by low-income Fijian families every month.”
Bainimarama said the Government is also reaching out to the private sector in an effort to work together to create employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific Sujiro Seam has applauded the Fiji Government budget.
Ambassador Seam said the budget put together by government is necessary.
He said that the new budget focuses on economic recovery while trying to help and protect those currently unemployed.
Ambassador Seam said the Fijian Government has introduced relief packages and policies needed in this difficult time.
“You have a lot of people who lost their jobs or source of income so the second necessary element is the social safety net and we have that to help and protect the people who are unemployed. I think this is also giving a good signal to all the main engine for recovery which is the private sector by simplifying and lowering the cost of doing business in this country so I think this is a good budget.”
The Ambassador was part of a discussion regarding the UN socio-economic impact assessment on COVID 19.
UN Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha says the consolidated report was presented to the Government during the consultation process prior to the announcement of the budget.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
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