Academic suggests ‘crisis’ committee

Shoppers go about buying fish at the Suva market. Picture: FILE/ELIKI NUKUTABU

Just as the Fiscal Review Committee made recommendations to assist with the formulation of the 2023-2024 National Budget, Government should consider forming a similar body to address the cost of living crisis in Fiji.

University of the South Pacific economics lecturer Dr Janesh Sami made the suggestion during an interview on The Fiji Times online news portal, The Lens@177 yesterday.

“Government doesn’t have the solutions to all the problems,” he said.

“But when you have a committee which is independent, and Fiscal Review Committee was fairly independent with people from different backgrounds, you are able to have diverse views on a particular issue.”

Dr Sami said the cost of living committee could look at all aspects in relation to cost of living — whether supermarkets and businesses were translating reductions in costs to consumers, while ensuring any recommendations made do not adversely impact on business.

“So we could have a similar committee to do with cost of living, and that is where you can better understand what is happening at ground level or how are the supermarkets able to work with the system, what are the challenges for them.

“Because you also want to be fair — you don’t want to over-regulate the supermarkets, you need to understand their problems, their challenges and issues as well. And that’s why I suggested some time back that we need to have an independent committee to look into the cost of living crisis in the country,” Dr Sami said.

He said the committee could be made up of representatives from the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission, Consumer Council of Fiji, the Reserve Bank of Fiji and other stakeholders.

“You can have a 10-member committee so you look at the deeper diagnostics as to what is happening with cost of living.

“Only then will you be able to fix the cost of living crisis.”

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