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Fiji’s agriculture industry to get boost

Fiji’s agriculture sector will receive about US$35 million in 2016 as part of the country’s budget announced by the finance minister today.

That is an increase from US$30 million in the 2015 budget.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says agriculture is the backbone of Fiji’s economy, accounting for about 9.3 percent of GDP and it’s at the core of rural development, food security and better national health.

“Government is providing funding support in areas of our competitive advantage, that we believe will increase production, farm incomes and of course GDP. This is all about modernising the agricultural sector, and one important step the government is taking is revive the Agricultural Marketing Authority, which helps small holder farmers in remote and isolated areas sell their produce.”

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the Authority will receive US$2.6 million to fund infrastructure improvements and help farmers meet new international standards for exports.

He says the government will also provide US$370,000 to farmers in the most remote areas to purchase new farm machinery.

Budget offers VAT cut

The government has decided to lower Value Added Tax from 15 percent to nine percent as part of its 2016 budget.

At the same time, the Service Turnover Tax will be raised from five to 10 percent.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the government expects revenues of just over US$1.4 billion of which an estimated $1.2 billion will be from taxes.

He forecasts a net deficit of US$132 million as well as US$74 million in debt repayments.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the government is planning to reform civil servants’ selection process and set up a new ministry of civil service next year.

The minister says to boost manufacturing, duties will be abolished on private machinery and raw materials.

More money will be allocated to education and a tax holiday will be given to private hospital investors.

Tourism promotion is to get a substantial funding increase.