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Regime wants to appeal VAT judgment

Three releases on VAT Judgment of Justice Gates:
- Regime wants to appeal VAT judgment
- Labour wins VAT case
- CJ hits out at judge

Regime wants to appeal VAT judgment

Issue No: 1040 27 August 2001

The Qarase regime lawyers want to appeal the High Curt judgment declaring the VAT decree illegal.

The regime's Attorney-General Alipate Qetaki has been quoted by the media as saying that the regime will appeal the decision despite fact that the Solicitor-General's Office is still studying the judgment.

Today's Fiji Times reports:

"ATTORNEY -GENERAL Alipate Qetaki said the interim administration will appeal against a decision by Justice Anthony Gates to suspend VAT from essential food items."

'"We have studied his decision and there are good grounds for appeal," he said."

"Mr Qetaki said the Solicitor-General's Office is studying the full context of Justice Gates ruling to determine its counter action."

"He said the judgment was an attempt to influence the political process."

"In his judgment delivered on Friday, Justice Gates instructed that the $26million collected through VAT be directed towards suitable poverty alleviation programmes."

'"The decision is clearly of great assistance to the Fiji Labour Party at the expense of almost all other parties," Mr Qetaki said."

'"It is unfair to other political parties. He has awarded $6000 costs which was not even requested by the party which filed the injunction."'

'"The comments made, the language used and the decision itself can be seen as an interference in the political process by a High Court judge," he said."

"Mr Qetaki said since the introduction of VAT in 1992, there has been two governments which had not challenged the legality of VAT and as such, a High Court judge declaring it as legal is unfair."

"On Justice Gates decision for revenue collected from VAT be diverted to poverty alleviation programmes, Mr Qetaki said he has tried to dictate to parliament what should be done with the money."

'"We were always under the impression that a decision would be made after a elections," he said."

"The injunction was filed by deposed prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji Labour Party president Jokapeci Koroi and former cabinet minister Doctor Ganesh Chand."


Labour wins VAT case

Issue No: 1037 27 August 2001

The Fiji Labour Party has won an application for an injunction against the Qarase regime for imposing value added tax on essential consumer items.

The Labour led People's Coalition Government had removed the controversial tax from 7 essential items.

But upon usurping power after the elected government was taken hostage by terrorists, the Qarase regime came up with its own budget. From January 2001, the Qarase regime had re-imposed the tax. This led to a major public outcry.

The Fiji Labour Party decided to challenge the reimposition of the tax.

The judgment in favour of the Fiji Labour Party was delivered on Friday. Delivering the judgment, the Judge, Justice Anthony Gates stated that the Qarase regime was illegal, and that it had no authority to change tax rules. Gates also hit out at another High Court judge, Justice Michael Scott for arguing that the doctrine of necessity can be used to override the provisions of the Constitution.

Judge Gates ordered:

· That VAT be removed from the 7 items with effect from 1 September,

· That the state provide full details on the revenue collected by the state from January to August before 27 September, and

· That the revenue be used for poverty alleviation projects.

The case was brought on behalf of the Fiji Labour Party by party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Party President, Jokapeci Koroi, and Party MP Dr. Ganesh Chand.


CJ hits out at judge

Issue No: 1039 27 August 2001

The Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga has hit out at High Court judge, Justice Anthony Gates for delivering his judgment on Fiji Labour Party's injunction application a day before the start of the elections.

Tuivaga stated that the judgement was aimed at embarrassing the Qarase administration. He said that since the case was wrapped up about two to three weeks ago, Judge Gates should have given the judgment well before the polling started. He told the media: "It seems he's trying to embarrass the interim government with the timing of his judgment. He should have decided on the matter long before".

The media also quotes Qarase as saying that the timing of the judgment was "a conspiracy".

The Fiji Law Society has hit out at Tuivaga for the claim of deliberate delay of 2 weeks. It has stated that this is the normal delay between hearing and the judgment.

It is believed that there were moves to send Judge Gates away and allow for some other judge to write the VAT judgment. This move failed.

The Chief Justice has been exposed to be partial towards the terrorists and the Qarase regime. Most people in Fiji now believe that Tuivaga has tarnished the reputation of the judiciary and should resign. Even the Fiji Law Society has called for Tuivaga's resignation. But Tuivaga has refused to resign.


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