Consumer body praises budget initiatives

Fiji Consumer Council Chief Executive officer Seema Shandil. Picture: FILE / REINAL CHAND

The 2021-2022 National Budget will create an enabling environment to foster a financially strong and resilient economy which would ultimately benefit all Fijian consumers.

This, according to Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Seema Shandil who said the budget was a holistic one which would ensure businesses, consumers and vulnerable Fijians were not left behind during the pandemic.

“The various fiscal and economic policies announced by the Minister of Economy has sent a strong signal that they are committed to economic recovery from COVID-19 and are ready to keep spending to speed up the recovery,” she said.

“The 2021-2022 budget initiatives will encourage socio-economic empowerment as a catalyst for a consumption-driven economy.”

Policy announcements such as unemployment support of over $200 million were praised as Ms Shandil said this would ensure consumers had the ability to access basic goods and services.

Consumers would also get the much-needed relief, especially those whose income had been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was stated other social protection and relief incentives announced in the budget such as an extended bill payment period for consumers, a decrease in traffic infringement fines, the waiver of fees such as birth certificate registration and land survey would ease some level of burden on consumers.

These initiatives would, however, put money back in the pockets of Fijian consumers.

“We have also been getting calls from a lot of consumers and small businesses saying that they are not being able to make their utility payments.

“We had also made a submission regarding this to the Government and it gives us joy to see that the Government will be meeting the full cost of 34.01 cents per unit for 100 kilowatts of power usage for eligible Fijians,” said Ms Shandil.

Many other initiatives announced by the Government were stated to ultimately have a ripple effect along the entire economic chains leading to economic growth and consumer welfare during the pandemic.

Ms Shandil said the budget announcements would certainly trigger consumer spending which was needed for positive growth of the economy as a whole.

More money in consumers’ pockets meant more spending and, consequently, more business for traders and, ultimately, positive economic growth.

Those who wished to seek advice on any consumer issue could call the toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.

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