‘Be fair if bringing back stamp duty’

AK Lawyers legal counsel, Ashnil Narayan while making a submission at the National Budget consultation. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Nadi lawyer Ashnil Narayan is urging Government to implement a stamp duty that would be fair for all.

While making submissions at a National Budget consultation this week, the AK Lawyers legal counsel said the removal of stamp duties by the previous government proved to be a disaster.

“We had stamp duties at reasonable and fair levels but I think the government then abolished it completely and it set a bad precedent,” he said.

“What happened at that time was I believe the last government had increased the stamp duty from three per cent to 10 per cent for foreigners and that from our point of view it had a detrimental effect on the market.

“One of the reason behind it was they were trying to curb the amount of land or properties that a foreigner could purchase but there were areas that were allocated that foreigners could buy and where they were restricted.” He said the changes made the FijiFirst Government on stamp duty during the pandemic was also an issue.

“As far as abolishing stamp duty completely during COVID by the previous government I think that was a big disaster as well because the people who could buy them bought it anyway.

“It served the people who could afford it. “My plea simply is if we are going to bring it back to make it fair and reasonable. Don’t discriminate between foreigners and locals.”

In response, Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad said stamp duty would not be returned in the next budget. However, he said it may be considered in the following financial year.

“We need to review these systems carefully,” he said. “Some of these decisions were done during COVID and we are trying to understand why it was done.

“We may consider it although not this year but in the following year.

“The reason I am saying this is because we do not want any uncertainty. You may interpret what I am saying now as stamp duty may not be coming this year but it may come in the following budget and that is a good thing.”

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