Fiji Water production bottled by Fijian government

Fiji Water

The Fiji Water company has shut down production after a government imposed tax hike. Image by Verne Equinox/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

The Fijian government has caused production of Fiji Water to shut down. A drastic hike in taxes on extraction of the water from Fiji for use in bottled water products was announced, causing the shutdown. Fiji Water has been implicated in corruption.

Fiji Water shuts down to avoid drowning in taxes

The government of Fiji raised taxes on companies extracting water from Fiji, prompting Fiji Water to stop production, according to Mother Jones. Fiji Water, a high end brand of artesian water, is a favorite of middle- and high-income connoisseurs of bottled water. The tax hike, from a third of a cent to 15 cents per liter extracted, was not a universal raise in the tax assessed on extracting water, but only companies that bottle 3.5 million liters, or about 930,000 gallons,  or more of water per month. The Fiji bottled water brand is the only such producer in the Fiji islands. The president of the Fiji Water company, John Cochran, said that the tax was “discriminatory.”

Bottling company in hot water with government

Before the tax hike the Director of External Affairs for Fiji Water, David Roth, was deported from Fiji back to the U.S. No charges or formal accusations were made, but Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that “as usual Fiji Water has adopted tactics that demonstrate that Fiji Water does not care about Fiji or Fijians.” Fiji Water has been exempted from paying corporate income taxes in Fiji and trademarked the name “Fiji” in overseas countries. The circumstances behind Roth’s deportation order aren’t entirely known, but the acting Prime Minister Ratu Ganilau resigned in protest of the deportation order, handing the government over to Voreqe, aka Frank, Bainimarama.

New bottlers may move in

The tax on the Fiji bottled water company effectively puts the company out of business there, though it appears that there may have been improprieties. Prime Minister Bainimarama, involved in coups d’etat in 2000 and 2006, has said he will start looking for other companies willing to extract the water for export.


Mother Jones

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