National Federation Party Leader, Professor Biman Prasad says the fact that 29.1%t of the Fijian population were in poverty before the COVID-19 pandemic was alarming and he believes that the “Bainimarama Boom” was a myth and a vote-buying gimmick.
Prasad says government has always bragged about the so-called 9 years of unprecedented growth and boom, yet, poverty increased from 28.1% that was established by the 2013-2014 Household Income Expenditure Survey to 29.9%nt in less than 6 years.
He further says undoubtedly, it has increased to 50% because an estimated 20% would have fallen into poverty because of massive unemployment.
Prasad adds and those already in poverty are likely to have slid into abject poverty especially in rural areas and informal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas after the outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in severe economic decline.
Prasad says it is absolutely clear that government’s social wage policy in terms of welfare assistance, other allowances like water, electricity subsidies and a restrictive list of free medicine, tuition-free education and freebies before the 2018 elections did not alleviate poverty because statistics by government’s own official agency don’t lie.
He adds instead of uplifting the lives and livelihood of people, the monetary assistance was used for consumption due to the exorbitant cost of living of food and medication.
Prasad says we now have an impoverished nation where 50% of our people may be struggling to put food on the table for their children and families. Prasad also says however, this government is clueless on how to provide meaningful assistance and all it is good at is bragging about their failed policies and patting each other’s backs.
He adds a change of leadership and a new direction and vision is needed, and the NFP is ready to rebuild lives and heal the fractured nation.
We have sent questions to Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Akbar on the work of the ministry to deal with people affected by poverty.
Click to read: 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey Report
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