University of the South Pacific economist, Doctor Neelesh Gounder says the poverty estimates released by the Fiji Bureau of Statisics in the 2019/2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey is credible and can be relied upon.
Doctor Gounder says based on the work he has done previously using survey data, the methodology and sampling that has been used by the Bureau should provide a good representation of the population of Fijian families.
He says taking together the methodology and the survey of 6,000 households, it is a good sample size to make a conclusion about the population.
Doctor Gounder says from this perspective, the poverty estimates is reliable.
He also says that the ethnic data that was released in the Household Income and Expenditure Survey has got nothing to do with the ethnic data which may or may not have been collected in the 2017 census.
Doctor Gounder says if one understands the nature of how these surveys are conducted, they will recognize that the ethnic data is not collected just by looking at just one member of the family.
He adds the enumerator would normally make several visits to the household to collect data over a 12 month period and during this time the enumerator will get to know the members more closely. Gounder says sub-population such as ethnicity, gender, religion or even age group is important because if we just collect data on the overall population, then we cannot make specific conclusions about the different sub-population categories.
The economist also says that since this survey was done pre-COVID and given the massive economic impact of the pandemic, he is estimating that the poverty rate has increased from 29% to somewhere between 40 to 50%.
Doctor Gounder adds it seems that the government wants to avoid race-based policies that may eventuate from the availability of ethnic data.
However he says recognizing diversity based on ethnicity does not necessarily mean that it should lead to policies based on ethnicity.
Click to read: 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey Report
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