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Fiji: Poverty Increasing - Regime Official

PEOPLES COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI

Issue No: 65; 27 September 2000

Poverty Increasing: Regime Official

Poverty in Fiji is rising since the terrorist take-over of the Parliament.

The Director of Social Welfare, Aseri Rika told today's Fiji Times that his office was, "being constantly informed of the increasing number of people drifting into poverty because of the events of May 19".

The massive loss of jobs after 19 May, together with school dropouts has seen socio-economic problems in Fiji which has been unparalleled in Fiji's recent history. This contrasts markedly with the declining trend in poverty under the Peoples Coalition government.

Figures from the regime show that an estimated 7,500 people have lost jobs as a direct result of the terrorist activity. This figure is based on Ministry of Labour's survey of registered enterprises. The impact of the economic downturn is felt by those in the informal sector as well. Using the formal sector to informal sector employment ratio, it is estimated that about 22,000 people have lost their livelihoods since May 19.

Further redundancies will be made with the expiry of Australia's Import Credit Scheme which will see Fiji's garment industry suffer. Australia already has announced that it will cease all preferential garment trading with Fiji unless a firm indication of a return to democracy was made. The President of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council, Ranjit Solanki, told today's Fiji Sun that there are 154 garment factories employing about 20,000 people in Fiji. The end to the preferential trade will see significant decline in Fiji's garment production. About 60% of all garments are exported to Australia.

According to today's Fiji Times, the Red Cross' Director, John Scott, has also warned that those in the middle income category affected by the downturn who are now living on their savings and sales of assets, will join the poverty ranks soon.

Given the lag period in effects to be felt, it is expected that poverty and associated socio-economic problems will continue escalating into next year.

END

26 September.


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