Cer­tifi­cate fee rise should be looked at in its proper con­text

Fiji Sun - - Comment -

Let­ter writer, Premila Prasad, has given us per­ti­nent points to con­sider in­stead of rush­ing to con­demn the rise in birth, death and mar­riage cer­tifi­cate fees.

The ini­tial shock of the in­crease has cre­ated the fuss.

It was to be ex­pected be­cause peo­ple had been used to the old fees for the last 19 years.

A fee re­view was on the cards. It was only a mat­ter of when.

It has now hap­pened and soon the noise will die down and we will carry on as nor­mal un­til the next fee re­view. When it happens some of us may not be around. Those who do may also protest about the rise.

But that’s the re­al­ity – that’s life as we go through this cy­cle.

You only get a birth, death or mar­riage cer­tifi­cate once and you make one pay­ment un­less you have lost the orig­i­nal and all the cer­ti­fied copies.

Ms Prasad says a per­son is born once, a per­son dies once and a per­son gen­er­ally gets married once. “So th­ese fees you only have to pay once. If you ar­gue that one may need to get a sec­ond copy of a cer­tifi­cate then again that will only be prob­a­bly once,” she says.

“By the way how much is a kilo of yaqona? How much is a packet of cig­a­rette? How much is it for a cup of cof­fee at one of those fancy cof­fee shops? How much is it for a big bot­tle of Coke or Pepsi or Sprint?

“All of th­ese things are non-es­sen­tial items and are detri­men­tal to your health, are not once in a life time pur­chase. Some buy th­ese things ev­ery­day or ev­ery sec­ond day or ev­ery third day - yet they don’t com­plain about it.”

She has hit the nail on the head.

Ev­ery year, the price of al­co­hol and cig­a­rettes go up. It’s be­come a per­ma­nent fea­ture of the Na­tional Bud­get an­nounced by the Min­is­ter for Econ­omy an­nu­ally. Th­ese are lux­u­ries that we can go with­out. But there are no loud protests and peo­ple con­tinue buying them. Peo­ple are so used to it now that they ac­cept it and carry on as nor­mal. It ap­pears there is no dras­tic re­duc­tion in the num­ber of peo­ple smok­ing.

While the price of yaqona (kava) went up to $100 and more for a kilo, it did not af­fect its con­sump­tion. In fact it seems to keep grow­ing even though those who drink it ex­ces­sively suffer from health prob­lems.

The cer­tifi­cate fee, com­pared to the price of al­co­hol, cig­a­rettes and yaqona, costs much less but it is an es­sen­tial part of who we are and how we can ac­cess im­por­tant ser­vices.

For a child to be­gin school, the par­ents are re­quired to pro­vide a birth cer­tifi­cate. With­out it, the child can­not be en­rolled.

If that child needs a pass­port, the par­ents would at­tach the birth cer­tifi­cate with the ap­pli­ca­tion. Spouses and fam­ily mem­bers re­quire a death cer­tifi­cate in or­der to deal with the es­tate of the de­ceased. The cost of many items and ser­vices, essentials and non-essentials, have pro­gres­sively gone up in the past 19 years.

The rise in cer­tifi­cate fees was in­evitable.

We need to change our mind­set and look at this is­sue holis­ti­cally by pri­ori­tis­ing what is im­por­tant for us.

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