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2007 Revised Budget - Minister of Finance

Mar '07
Minister of Finance, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry
2007 Revised budget address by the Minister of Finance, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry:

The establishment of the Audit Compliance Programme (ACP) will be pursued with urgency to ensure that our garment exporters benefit from a reduction in local area content for garment products and opportunities under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA).

Agriculture is an important sector, with exciting growth prospects. The Ministry of Agriculture is allocated $62 million in 2007.

The duty on luxury goods (watches, gold, silversmith wares, beauty/make up preparations and others) will be increased from 3% to 15%.

Low inflation is also important to our Recovery Plan. At the end of December, inflation was 3.1 percent and is expected to remain around this level through the year. We will strive to ensure that people's hard work is not undermined by high inflation. However, we are at the same time realistic that we cannot turn exports around or achieve import substitution immediately. This will obviously take time.

There are a host of things that need to come together before exports can start to grow. In the meantime, we need to minimize the effect of the widening trade gap on foreign reserves. We need to buy time. The Reserve Bank has moved over the last four years to dampen import demand by raising interest rates and tightening liquidity. This has been necessary in the face of falling reserves.

Interest ratehowever is a tool that affects all aspects of spending, including investment at a time when we need to encourage investment. Higher interest rate also affects the survival of small businesses which are critical to the livelihoods of many of our people.

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