Minister for Local Government, Premila Kumar confirms some market masters have been relieved of their duties and all municipal councils are now under scrutiny.
Kumar says they have found that some market masters have not made correct decisions in a number of municipal councils and some of them have given stalls to people who don't need the stalls and these people have later sublet the stalls.
Kumar says there are people who own 30 stalls, are the biggest distributors of goods, their turnover is running into millions of dollars and are operating from municipal markets.
She says some vendors have stalls in Suva, Nausori and Laqere and the question is why the stalls are in high demand.
Kumar says in some cases, market masters have given the stalls to their family members. She says there were some people who were already in the waiting list and are still waiting to get stalls.
The Minister says it is only fair that a household gets one stall in a municipal market to enable them to make money for their livelihood.
Kumar says they will soon come up with a municipal market regulation after proper consultations are done and details regarding the distribution of stalls will be revealed then.
Kumar says they have to set a benchmark as to who will qualify to get a stall and if the person is earning above an amount, he or she should not be given a stall in the market.
The Minister says municipal councils are giving stalls for less amount and there are other middle men who take the stalls, sublet and make more money.
Kumar says markets are not for big players.
Kumar says this is why the CEOs of all municipal councils will now be deciding who will be getting the stalls in the municipal markets and this is to curb unfair practices.
The Minister for Local Government adds they will also change the description of the roles of market masters to market managers where they will be responsible for the total management of the market which includes resolving conflicts, collection of fees and cleanliness of the market.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Secretary and Legal Advisor of the Suva United Market Vendors Association, Shobhna Verma says they welcome the move where the CEO of the municipal councils will now be making decisions regarding stalls as no new vendors are getting stalls while some current vendors have 20 to 30 stalls.
The Suva United Market Vendors Association has 350 members. There are 500 permanent stalls in Suva market and over 1,000 temporary stalls.
Verma says the Local Government Minister is correct that stalls should be given to people who are in dire need of money for their livelihoods.
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