The Fijian Government announced its National Budget for the new fiscal year, 2017-2018 on June 29 and key provisions include a new income threshold.
Speaking in Parliament, Attorney General and Finance Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the income threshold would be raised from $16,000to $30,000, and that it would remove the burden of taxation immediately, for 14,500 Fijians. The threshold has been periodically raised since 2007. “This latest change will make life easier for many more people who work hard every day to support their families and create some personal wealth. The first $30,000 for every Fijian’s income will be tax-free,” he said.
Financial allocations and provisions pertaining to the real estate industry included the following:
- The Land Bank Investment Program has been provided a further funding of $2.5 million. The program is aimed at promoting the productive utilisation of land by native landowners who deposit their land with the Land Bank and receive market-based lease payments. A total of 85 parcels of land covering an area of 8,757 hectares have been deposited to date, with the Lands Department currently processing a further 38 parcels that encompass a total area of 11,016 hectares.
- The Infrastructure sector will receive around $3.2 million in cash donations, including a $2.9 million contribution from the Green Climate Fund for the Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management project.
- The Infrastructure Sector is also expected to rake in around $14.7 million in Aid in Kind (AIK) projects, including $10.2 million from the Chinese Government and around $2.2 million in substantial technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
- A housing program to upgrade informal settlements has been allocated a sum of $2.8 million. This is for ongoing upgrading works at four squatter settlements, namely Clopcott in Ba, Ledrusasa in Nadi and Sasawira and Caubati in Nasinu, Suva.
This program aims to provide sustainable housing and income-generating activities for squatter residents.
- A city-wide upgrade targeted at squatter settlements in the corridors of Suva and Nausori, Nadi and Lautoka and in Labasa and Savusavu has been provided $436,000. The project encompasses the upgrade of these urban and peri-urban squatter settlements, with relevant consultations to be carried out with municipal councils upon their implantation.
- Similarly, an upgrade of informal settlements situated on I Taukei (Native)- owned land administered by the I Taukei Land Trust Board has been allocated $5,998,567). This is to provide for continual construction works at the settlements of Waidamudamu (Nausori), Nadonumai (Lami), Wakanisila (Suva) and Tauvegavega in Ba.
- The Housing Assistance Relief Trust (HART) program has been allocated $500,000. This program accommodates impoverished families in low-cost housing settlements, with about 90 per cent of HART tenants being social welfare recipients who pay $1-$5 weekly in rent.
- A sum of $1 million has been put towards a housing scheme to overseas modes of assistance for rural communities and individuals. This includes the re-construction of homes for families whose houses have been destroyed by fires or natural disasters and support for building standard 24m x 16m housing structures that entail a Government contribution of 2/3 of total costs (with 1/3 contributions in cash or kind by recipients). The third part of this rural housing scheme includes the construction of new homes for social welfare recipients recommended by the Department of Social Welfare, with full funding provided by the State.
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