THE Asian Development Bank says the recent enhancement of Fiji's social welfare system puts the country at the forefront of development of social safety nets in the Pacific.
According to this year's first issue of ADB's Pacific Economic Monitor, the empowerment of the vulnerable through social interventions "will improve targeting and coverage of the vulnerable, enabling it to benefit nearly 13,000 poor households".
"This will expand coverage from the current three per cent to 10 per cent of the population. This level of commitment to protecting the vulnerable puts Fiji at the forefront of development of social safety nets in the Pacific," the report, which is published three times each year, stated.
The Pacific Economic Monitor reviews economic developments and issues in the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste.
In announcing the 2013 Budget last November, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said under a new welfare system, instead of individuals, households that met the criteria were eligible to receive a maximum of $150 per month. The total budget for this program was placed at $22.7million.
He also announced that the government would, for the first time, introduce pensions for about 9000 persons aged 70 years and over who did not have any form of income or pension, or had never been part of a superannuation scheme.
The subsidised bus fare program was also to continue for the elderly and the disabled.