‘Budget won’t affect us’

Samisoni Niumaoma 54 years of Newtown, Nasinu a shoeshine worker for 41 years in Suva.Picture ATU RASEA

LONG-TIME Suva shoeshine boy Samisoni Niumaoma says the national budget does not affect shoeshine boys as they continue their daily struggle to make money and put food on the table and provide for their families.

Mr Niumaoma, 54, made these comments when The Fiji Times took to Suva’s central business district (CBD) and spoke to a few of them on what they understood about the upcoming 2018/2019 National Budget announcement scheduled for tomorrow.

The answer by the majority of them was a flat zero. It was either they did not understand what the national budget was all about or they didn’t care because the budget didn’t affect them.

Most paid little heed to the national budget unless it translates to things that directly benefit them in terms of their earnings or the cost of basic food items they buy daily.

Shoeshine boys plying their trade have been part of the Suva CBD’s daily life in past decades.

The Wailoku man, who has been polishing shoes for the past 41 years, said if Government could increase the minimum wages then it would be good for them.

“If the wage rate is increased it could mean more money for the boys on the streets.

Right now life is hard and we struggle to make even $20 to $30 in a day,” he said.

Mr Niumaoma said the cost of basic food items had also gone up and Government should be on the lookout for unscrupulous traders who keep increasing food prices.

Isei Wasabalavu, 30, a shoeshine boy for the past 10 years, echoed similar sentiments on increasing the wage rate and the increasing food costs.

“The budget means nothing to us because we carry on our business as usual but if the wage rate of people is increased we can earn more because more people would be able to use money for a shine,” Mr Wasabalavu said.

He said with his earnings from shining shoes, he had been supporting his family of four — with two children attending school and he agreed that basic food prices had increased.

Mr Wasabalavu said Government’s free education initiative was good and he hoped they would carry on with it.

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