AG: Parenthood assistance to encourage savings

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service & Communications Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum in discussions with opposition MP Jiosefo Dulakiverata, Assistant Minister for Women, Children & Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar and Oppostition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa during a break in the 2018/2019 national budget briefing yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

ECONOMY Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says one of the rationales behind the parenthood assistance of $1000 per child offered in the 2018-2019 National Budget is to encourage savings.

He said the first condition of the parenthood assistance was that the baby must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

“So you have to register, get a birth certificate and you’re entitled to $1000 under the child’s name, but with the mother as the signatory to the bank account,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

The A-G said most parents only registered their children when they were about to go to school.

“The other condition is out of the $1000, only $500 can be used initially for buying milk, diapers etc. The second $500 sits in the bank account and can only be used once the child gets to Year 1,” he said.

The minister said that was the other condition and a lot of banks had offered to participate in this.

“We’ve allocated $5 million for this assistance and it’s only applicable for households which earn $30,000 or less,” he said.

“So, we are trying to encourage savings because the money sits in the bank account with no account fees. In fact, the banks have agreed to pay a small interest and this will actually accumulate over the six years,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government did a sweep a few years back through Lau, Lomaiviti, Vanua Levu, and some parts of Viti Levu and found that about 25,000 Fijians did not have a birth certificate, with some in their 40s and 50s.

“One of them was actually 68 years old, who has lived most of his entire life without a birth certificate,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and a team of senior Ministry of Economy officials carried out a briefing on the 2018-2019 National Budget for members of Parliament in Suva yesterday.

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