Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s Speech at the Opening of the FRCA Customer Service Centre, Sigatoka

This morning I was in Rakiraki to open the FRCA Customer Services Centre and I am happy this afternoon to do the same here in Sigatoka. Whilst the two areas are different in terms of economic development they are both very important regions for our economy and they both have great potential for future growth. Such occasions therefore give me much pleasure to demonstrate my governments commitment to encourage growth and to serving all Fijians equally.

We understand that in the past government did not have much of a presence outside of the big cities and towns. We understand that in order for us to fulfill our duty we must bring our services to you. This region is vital to the economic potential of Fiji not only is the coral coast the backbone of Fiji’s tourism industry, Sigatoka is also known as the salad bowl of Fiji. It is therefore only proper that we have the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority establish an office here. FRCA is one of the tier one agencies whose approval is needed for new investments. If we are to generate more economic growth we need to offer these services in areas such as Sigatoka.

Opening the FRCA office here will also provide general taxation customer services to the people of Nadroga and Navosa. You will not have to travel to Nadi and Lautoka or Suva for these services any longer.

Ladies and gentlemen if we are to succeed in making government more effective, more responsive and more capable it is very important that you pay your taxes in full and on time. Everyone who evades taxes denies you, your children and your fellow citizens from government services you rely on. People who don’t pay their taxes don’t take money away from government but from their fellow Fijians. It means less money for new schools, new roads and of course new hospitals. If everyone in Fiji paid their taxes and complied with tax laws we could easily have a surplus budget with prudent financial management. We could provide more services and we could do more as a nation.

For our part we have lowered taxes and reduced duty rates for a number of key imports to make sure that our tax system is fair and affordable. This year we are going to further simplify our tax system and continue our efforts. I believe that taxes should not be a burden or seem like a punishment, they should be a way for citizens to share in improving our country. They should be a way to lift the standard of living for all Fijians to improve public safety and provide the services that government is placed to provide. That is my aim and my reducing the burden of taxes and raising the value of what you receive for your taxes I believe that people will see that paying their taxes is one of the many privileges of being a Fijian and not just a civic duty. If you are not complying with the rules you know who you are and soon FRCA will know who you are, remember if you hide they will seek. So don’t sit on the sideline, take pride in doing your part for Fiji.

Ladies and gentlemen I am proud to say that one of FRCAs Gold Card members Tappoos is from Sigatoka. The Gold Card premium services which I launched late last year is a partnership between FRCA and certain government agencies offering red carpet services to complying tax payers. We want to thank those Fijians including ordinary Fijians who pay their taxes on time and reward them for their commitment to nation building including the projects we are supporting right here in the Nadroga province. I encourage all of you therefore to make good use of the facilities now available to you.

Ladies and gentlemen I now have the pleasure of declaring the FRCA Sigatoka Customer Services Centre open.

Vinaka vakalevu.