Fiji government yields to bottled water company pressure

Water in FijiA proposed tax on bottled water in Fiji has been scrapped following pressure by an industry lobby group on the island.

The interim Fijian government repealed its 20 cents per litre tax on bottled water following the factory closure of Fiji Water, the last of the bottled water companies to stop operations after the cabinet introduced the new taxation system.

Bottled water companies on the South Pacific island have welcomed the move. According to Fiji One News, the Fiji Bottled Water Institute, which represents nine companies, has said that consultations need to be held first on any future tax proposals before they are implemented.

Industry spokesman Jay Dayal said, “We are very pleased that at least the prime minister and attorney general intervened in the matter and resolved the whole issue. And now the bottlers will get together with the government and work out a form of compensation that is suitable to the government for the resource that we are extracting.”

Last year bottled water exports from Fiji counted for around $130 million, in an industry employing more than 700 people.

However, conservationists have pointed to the growing environmental costs associated with bottling water in Fiji. Typically plastic bottles are transported from China and then sent around the world to consumers in the United States and Europe.

A BBC Panorama documentary released earlier this year also highlighted the fact that a third of Fijians are still living without access to clean water. It showed that people were falling ill and dying of typhoid and other diseases related to contaminated water.

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