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Parties on social package

Social welfare programmes have provided relief to many. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation plays a very vital role in looking after the welfare of disadvantaged groups.
15 Aug 2014 14:19
Parties on social package
From left: Jai Singh (Shayal Singh's Father), Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Itendra Nair, Rishikul Sanatan College Dux SHayal Singh and Principal Rose Sharma during the Rishikul Sanatan College annual prizegiving ceremony on December 3, 2020. Photo Police Media Cell

Social welfare programmes have provided relief to many. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation plays a very vital role in looking after the welfare of disadvantaged groups.

With only 32 days from polling day, parties have proposed several ways of improving or changing the current social welfare system. Here we take a look at what some of the parties have to say:

NFP

The National Federation Party has vowed to build a caring society for all.

Their manifesto outlines that the party would increase funding for provision of aged care, health services and appropriate community facilities for recreation for the aged.

It would increase the social pension scheme allowance that targets all elderly citizens aged 70 years and over.

It will make special provisions for welfare funding for all widows, widowers, destitutes regardless of other family support already provided to them.

“Those who are poor and elderly over 65 living without any form of employment, have been living in suffering,” party leader Dr Biman Prasad said.

“With only $30 being provided to people living over 70 years was ridiculous and when we said we would increase it then the government came forward and said they would now increase it to $50 so that is good.

“But NFP will review all social welfare assistance with the view to establishing a level that compensate with the high cost of living, delivery and transport as well as review the utilities so that people in poverty, destitute and hardship can live with dignity.”

PDP

Party leader Felix Anthony said in keeping with its principles and values, the party would develop a comprehensive social welfare policy to take care of all its senior citizens and others who were physically or intellectually challenged.

Their manifesto state that the party would extend social security benefits so all citizens can enjoy their fundamental right to a decent and dignified life.

The manifesto says that the absence of well functioning social security systems was a major cause of poverty, ill health and morality.

The party would immediately, when it comes to power, introduce a means tested pension scheme for all citizens over the age of 60 at the initial rate of $120 per month.

SODELPA

The Social Democratic Liberal Party said that the current government failed to provide a well coordinated plan for provision of social welfare services.

They claim that the Bainimarama Government initiated new social welfare services based on seeking political popularity rather than proper research.

The party hence would also review the social welfare allowance scheme and improve delivery but it would continue with the recently introduced old age pension scheme, and the food voucher scheme but review operations delivery. In their manifesto their aim was to increase the monthly amount.

It would subsidise selected basic food items and initiate programmes to upgrade standards of living for those below the poverty line and reduce significantly the number of people living in poverty.

However the party would continue with the bus fare scheme for the elderly that in their manifesto says was originally conceived by the Laisenia Qarase-led Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua government.

FLP

Like other parties the Fiji Labour Party has also taken the stand to review social welfare benefits for the better of the recipients.

The party, in its manifesto, outlined that it would provide $100 a month to all elderly citizens over 65 years who have no other source of income.

Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry during the launch of the manifesto said between 2012 and 2013, over 400 recipients were removed from the welfare assistance scheme subjecting them to intense hardship.

He said the party would restore their benefits and ensure that all disabled and elderly persons living in genuine hardship receive state assistance.

The party would also periodically review rates of welfare assistance to provide relief from increased living costs.

FUFP

The party proposes to have a United Council of Saints which comprises religious leaders of all religions.

Party president Jagath Karunaratne said the idea behind this, is to channel through the welfare programs via well established administration model behind religious organisations.

He said Fiji has a beautiful administration and governance model behind traditional and religious entities.

“They reach out to almost every single person in the country where the government machinery would not be able to reach effectively,” he said.

“This is where the party proposes to channel through the welfare programmes via church, mandir or mosque.”

One of the manifesto items of the party is to allocate $10 per member for each religious organisation. For example if the Methodist church has 300,000 members they will get $3million a year for welfare and similarly the other religious organisations. The allocation of $10 per member is in addition to the other welfare programmes provided by the government.

“The government only can provide assistance in a broader perspective.

“While the welfare programmes are provided through the government machinery, the government should utilise the other modes and administration models that are available.”

FIJIFIRST

The government has introduced various programmes to provide for the needy and the destitute with no source of income. The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation and Fiji First party president Dr Jiko Luveni recently clarified why only $30 were provided for.

“Recipients were only given $30 because the ministry found that some were misusing the assistance they were given,” she said.

“Yes I agree that $30 is not enough and a lot of people have been telling me so we have raised it up to $50 from next year.”

The cabinet recently approved an increment in the social pension paid monthly by the government to senior citizens from next year.

The Social Pension Scheme has a budgetary allocation of $3.2 million for this year.

Dr Luveni said the increase was based on the requests of senior citizens through her discussions with communities in rural areas and the pensioners had requested if the monthly $30 pension could be increased to $50, and it was put to the Cabinet.

“I am delighted to inform that Cabinet has approved the increase in Social Pension Scheme for the senior citizens from $30 to $50 a month,” she said in the statement.

Feedback:farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj



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