Fiji Times Logo

Fiji Time: 2:26 PM on Wednesday 24 September

/ Front page / News

Fr Barr: Constitution must address poverty, inequality

Sheenal Sharma
Monday, November 12, 2012

THE Bill of Rights in the 1997 Constitution talked about our rights to the things which should keep us out of poverty but did not say how these rights could be delivered in reality, says a consultant.

Representing the Peoples Community Network in a seminar titled "The Challenges of Poverty to the Constitution" held at the University of the South Pacific on Friday, Father Kevin Barr said two thirds of Fiji's population lived in poverty or close to it.

He said 60 per cent of the workers in full-time employment earned wages below the poverty line and 15-20 per cent of the people lived in squatter settlements.

"Poverty is a man-made problem which we ourselves can solve if we really want to," he said.

Father Barr said the constitution should address the rights of all the people to their basic needs.

"It should suggest how in practice the right to housing, employment, just wages, decent food, education and proper health care can be achieved," he said.

"It does not spell out the economic and political systems which will guarantee that they are delivered to all the people so that everyone receives justice," he said.

Father Barr said the constitution needed to spell out an economic and political system which was people-centred.

"It should work for the common good and not for the benefit of only a few," said Father Barr.

He said the system should be one which demanded not absolute equality but a better distribution of the benefits of economic growth and development.

Father Barr said the constitution must spell out principles where political parties publicly account for contributions they received from the private sector. "This should help to arrest lobbies associated with crony capitalism where an unhealthy collusion is established between business interests and politicians," he said.

Father Barr said Fiji's Constitution provided one important way whereby steps could be taken to eradicate poverty and provide guidelines for true people-centred development through principles of social justice and the common good.

"We have so much poverty and inequality in Fiji, our constitution must address it directly and seriously," he said.





Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. Ro Teimumu is Leader of the Opposition
  2. Mata apologises
  3. PM's first official trip
  4. A tick for the voters
  5. Police will monitor situation
  6. CORRECTION
  7. Resort joins movement, removes grouper fish from menu
  8. Scabies threat
  9. UK looks forward to working with PM
  10. Water supply issue

Top Stories this Week

  1. FijiFirst claims 60 per cent Thursday (18 Sep)
  2. Parties reject result Friday (19 Sep)
  3. Leader of the pack Thursday (18 Sep)
  4. No stop Friday (19 Sep)
  5. Fiji First in strong lead: Fiji Elections Saturday (20 Sep)
  6. PM's 1st mission Monday (22 Sep)
  7. FijiFirst leads Thursday (18 Sep)
  8. Elections supervisor to announce final results Friday (19 Sep)
  9. Bainimarama's promise: I will serve all Monday (22 Sep)
  10. Election office begins to receive final results Friday (19 Sep)