The NGO Coalition on Human Rights says they were shocked to hear about the unfair dismissal, instant termination and the reported ‘escorting' of the Chief Executive Officer of the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, Kemueli Naiqama yesterday afternoon.
In a statement the Coalition says Naiqama’s termination is also draconian and reminiscent of an autocratic and dictatorial regime with no right of reply nor fairness being exhibited in this sudden action issued by the acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Economy.
They say the Fiji Bureau of Stats is the country’s primary source of social and economic statistics, crucial for public policy and decision making and like the government, civil society organisations rely on a timely supply of data to inform the work that they do.
They further add the findings of the Household Income and Expenditure report highlighted high poverty incidence by location, ethnicity and religious background, unemployment, children being deprived of basic necessities and education.
The Coalition says from the work that they do, they know that every individual, family and community context is different and to be most effective in responding to the issues they face, they need contextually relevant disaggregated data and information.
It further says the Household Income and Expenditure Survey did just that with a sample size from the population.
They also say the report has since been heavily criticised by the Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in a press conference questioning the validity of the data. The Coalition highlighted that additionally, Sayed-Khaiyum has gone further stating that the report cannot be relied upon as there were huge integrity issues.
The Coalition also says the Fiji Bureau of Stats is mandated by law to carry out national statistical surveys and a significant part of this work is for the Bureau to collaborate with all government departments and other agencies in the collection, compilation, analysis and publication of statistical records of administration.
They say therefore, it is quite odd for the Minister for Economy and Attorney-General to not only interfere, but also criticise the data presented in the report when the work of the Bureau is a collective effort by all government departments and agencies.
Click to read: 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey Report
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