February 2, 2023

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Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has stressed that the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission’s role is to ensure the prices of items do not get out of hand.

He made the comment after National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad today questioned the independence of the FCCC.

While contributing to a debate on the consolidated review reports of the Fiji Commerce Commission’s 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 annual reports, Professor Prasad says an independent body should remain apolitical and impartial.

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“If you look at it from an economic point of view, the role of FCCC is extremely important and whatever they do apart from the watchdog, the way in which they conduct themselves will determine whether they can create confidence and trust in the economy.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says Prasad continuously undermines the Fijian economy.

“He says the banking sector is not doing well. FSC is bankrupt, Fiji Airways is bankrupt, and this organization is not independent. We don’t have any reserves. “

After raising a point of order, the NFP leader stated they are not undermining the Fijian economy while raising the issue of independence.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the Opposition MPs have failed to understand the role of the FCCC.

“FCCC does not reduce the price of things. FCCC is independent and we need to be able to ensure that that independence continues because it will not only provide consumer protection but what is critically important is to be able to provide competition. If there’s a competition in the market, we increase consumption, we will create jobs for young people like them who will go into the workforce very soon and we will be able to have a stable economy.”

The Economy Minister says if they had any political influence on FCCC, the price of sugar would not have increased.

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“Government in fact Mr. Speaker objected to the sugar price increase. Yet they went ahead and gave the sugar price increase, yes admittedly not as high as FSC wanted but they actually gave the price rise. We could have done a political shoddy job here if we had any influence over FCCC and said don’t increase the price, it’s election year.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says Fijians need to understand that certain items in the country are price-controlled while some are not.