Opinion

Claims On Poverty, Audits

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar has  appealed to politicians not to use the poor to score political points and asked that all parties support the Government’s
25 Oct 2014 11:34
Claims On Poverty, Audits

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar has  appealed to politicians not to use the poor to score political points and asked that all parties support the Government’s comprehensive measures to alleviate poverty rather than using disadvantaged Fijians as a political football.

She said she was especially disappointed at  National Federation Party (NFP) leader Dr Biman Prasad who seemed determined to lay the blame for poverty in Fiji at the Government’s feet. “During the election campaign, an NFP television advertisement falsely claimed that the level of poverty in Fiji was 45 per cent. Then in his maiden speech to Parliament last week, the NFP leader said it was one third or 33 per cent.”

Contrary to this claim a World Bank survey had found that poverty in Fiji had actually declined from 35 per cent in 2003 to almost 30 per cent in 2009. Since then, Government had launched a range of poverty alleviation measures and the Fiji economy had entered a period of sustained growth and job creation that is bound to have led to a further decline in poverty.

“The NFP leader knew full well that poverty alleviation required a holistic approach and there were no easy answers, yet his main policy contribution during the election campaign was to slash VAT to 10 percent, which would have deprived Government of almost $300-million in revenue and damaged our ability to assist the poor”.

The minister said the Bainimarama Government had done more than previous governments to tackle the root causes of poverty and was doing so with long term solutions rather than quick fixes that were more than a gimmick than anything else.

“Such measures as our education revolution and free schooling are giving Fiji’s poor the leg-up they need to climb out of poverty. Coupled with a wider social security net, housing assistance and cheaper electricity,  water and medicine for low incomes earners plus a low inflation rate, this holistic approach is making a real difference to the lives of ordinary people and deserves to be supported by all sides of politics,” she said.

Audit, Youth Issues Raised

The need for civil service reform and proper procedures is highlighted in these media reports from the Auditor-General, following the submission of the reports to Parliament.  The Fiji Sun summarises inadequacies from 2007-2010, the  Fiji Times dealt with incomplete Election Office records in 2012, FijiLive dealt with medical shortcomings in 2013, and FijiVillage reported the Auditor-General’s suggestions to the Education Ministry on its 2013 report.  and Fiji Broadcasting reported on revolving fund inaccuracies in the Ministry of Finance reports for 2008. There would seem to be a need for a detailed overall assessment.

Allen Lockington says ‘its shocking’:

“We are on the road to a new Fiji. Can I ask all the government department heads to be a little more responsible in their work. The Auditor-General’s report is shocking. Let’s pull up our proverbial socks and make the civil service work and prosper like Punjas, Motibhais, Tapoos , Vodafone. These companies are run efficiently. We could even ask them to lend the civil service a few managers to go and overhaul departments that are lacking in motivation. Perhaps someone from the private sector will see the rot and remove it. Oh, and if you don’t like the government you work for, how about resigning.”

Youth need ‘more space’:.

National Youth Council of Fiji president, Williame Gucake says youth don’t have a space to voice their concerns. He hopes with the review of the National Youth Policy, an inclusive platform for all youth to voice their concern will be the end result. He thanked UNDP for sponsoring them to go around and get the youth voices so that they can call the National Youth Policy a policy that has contained youth voices from all over Fiji.

Feedback:  newsroomi@fijisun.com.fj

– Writer is a columnist with Fiji Sun and a former professor of development studies at the University of the South Pacific.

 

 




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