20% suspended pay for Fiji cabinet, MPs

Suspending 20 per cent of pay for government ministers as well as all members of the Fijian Parliament formed a key part of Fiji’s COVID 19 response budget handed down in a special sitting that ended a short time ago.

Fiji’s minister for economy and attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told parliament that although suspending pay for elected officials would save FJ$400,000, the government had taken the decision not to spread the pay cut down to all other civil servants.

Sayed-Khaiyum said the FJD$1 billion COVID19 response measures will also see government releasing workers’ pension funds to provide cash grants to those that have lost their jobs or those sent out on leave without pay.

Cash pay out ranges from $150 to $1000 per worker, with government promising to subsidise affected workers who don’t have enough in their pension funds. Deductions by workers as well as their employers to the fund have also been reduced by between 3 – 5 per cent. Low-income workers will also enjoy further subsidies in their water and power bills.

Tax reliefs have also been offered to hotel and resort operators, as well as companies including small and medium businesses. Commercial banks and hire purchase companies are also offering concessions in the terms and interests of loans or hire purchases.

Fiji’s Ministry of Health is getting an additional $40 million, money which Minister Sayed-Khaiyum would go towards purchasing more medical supplies like testing kits, ventilators, personal protection gears and hospital beds.

Security forces – encompassing Fiji police and military — are getting a boost of $850,000 more in their budget, which would assist them in enforcing lock downs and quarantine measures. Duty on many imported medical supplies have been reduced, while tax on diesel and petrol will increase by 20 cents per litre.

Sayed Khaiyum confirmed the $1 billion package would widen the budget deficit by 9 per cent and national debts to 60.9 per cent of GDP.

Parliament adjourned late tonight and will resume at 9:30 tomorrow to debate and vote on the COVID19 response budget.