The latest wave of fake news viral on Facebook right now is how Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS) officers are trying to tax the market vendors.
This has been posted on the discredited Fiji Exposed Forum page and shared widely, even by some Opposition political parties’ supporters.
FRCS is not trying to tax the market vendors. They cannot take income tax- Pay as You Earn (PAYE) from anyone earning less than $30,000 per year. That is the law.
FRCS chief executive officer Visvanath Das, when questioned yesterday, said: “There is nothing such as that. This is an absolute fake news.”
What FRCS had been trying to do is to take their services to the people. They have been reaching out to the people to register and get their Tax Identification Number or what we call TIN.
Having a TIN does not mean you are automatically taxed. Far from it. We all know that TIN is one requirement if we want to have a bank account.
Even our application for Energy Fiji Limited shares requires us to disclose our TIN.
FRCS officials have been reaching out to the market vendors, explaining to them the process, registering them and bringing the services to the people.
These hardworking market vendors need not run from pillar to post or line up at FRCS offices.
Instead, FRCS is coming to them, helping them. This is a great service delivery.
But, to politicise this is disgusting.
This brings to the fore the fact that gullible people readily believe anything and everything they read on social networking sites.
The amount of fake news on Facebook is outrageous.
And to have educated people such as some doctors openly sharing it on their pages without questioning its authenticity is alarming.
Fijians need to realise that there are some people desperate to instil fear and create doubt.
It costs them nothing to spread false information.
Many are not doing it from their real accounts and many are sitting comfortably outside Fiji, not bothering to verify facts before posting anything up.
Who suffers? The hardworking Fijians who are working hard and contributing to growing the economy.
By yesterday, the fake news about FRCS and the market vendors had even been shared on the Fiji Native Tribal Congress Facebook page.
SODELPA Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula is an administrator of the page. SODELPA provisional candidate Ezekiel Sharma had even reacted to the post and former iTaukei Lands Trust Board chief executive officer Alipate Qetaki also put in a lengthy comment on the post.
None of the 80 people who commented on the post questioned the authenticity of it.
However, by reacting or commenting on it, they hope to give it credence.
This is how low people have stooped. But we need to be wary and be ready to ask questions.
As they say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.