Trend Alarming: Chaudhry
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SUVA (Fiji Times Online/Pacific Media Watch): The continued migration of skilled Fijians is a dangerous trend that will have a devastating effect on national development, Opposition leader Mahendra Chaudhry has warned.
"If the trend continues, Fiji will be left with a large pool of poorly educated, unskilled work force with disastrous consequences on our social and economic infrastructure and levels of investment," he said.
"The adverse effects of the brain drain that began with the 1987 coups is seen in the decline of the sugar industry, falling standards of education, the appalling state of our health facilities, the incompetence and inefficiency of the civil service as well as a general decline in professional standards everywhere."
Chaudhry warned the vacuum created by the migration would be filled by undesirable elements leading to an increase in crime, drugs and money laundering. Last week, University of the South Pacific lecturer Professor Robbie Robertson said by next year, the Indian population would be down to 37 per cent of the demographic set up.
He said this would be caused by people fleeing the country.
Chaudhry said while Fiji-Indians were the major component of those leaving our shores to settle overseas, there was a significant number of educated Fijians and those from other minority communities who were also leaving.
He said another worrying trend was the new category of migrant workers leaving to take up security jobs in Iraq and Kuwait.
"Some 26,000 Fijians workers have applied for these risky jobs, citing lack of opportunities here," Chaudhry said.
"All these are indications of a growing feeling of insecurity, frustration and disaffection among people of all races at the direction in which Fiji appears to be headed.
"A lack of good governance, political instability, declining law and order situation, racial discrimination and lack of opportunities are the major reasons driving people away from Fiji," Chaudhry said.
He said it was obvious a stagnating economy could not provide jobs for the 6000 people who joined the job market every year, especially when the majority of them were graduates.
"People want a better life for themselves and a more secure future and equal opportunities for their children," Chaudhry said.
"The only way we can reverse this trend and save Fiji now, is to choose a government that will bring in stability, provide investor confidence and initiate policies that will create new job opportunities and improve standards of living."