Escalating living costs have topped the list of concerns raised by people meeting Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry on his tour through the North.
Chaudhry yesterday said this weekend, he would tour the Northern Division as part of the party's 2014 election campaign.
"The Northern economy is quite depressed. People are leaving by the hundreds to move to Viti Levu in search of jobs and a better quality of life," he said, adding the decline of the sugar industry had proved to be impactful on the northerners.
"It is quite sad. Many homes are abandoned with just the elderly parents left behind. The younger people have all left.
"These people had some form of sustenance. Now they are forced to move to towns in Viti Levu to seek employment."
The former prime minister said issues such as unemployment and poverty were nothing if not widespread in the North, adding that small businesses were also suffering at the hands of authorities.
"Over-regulation and harassment of small businesses by the authorities were forcing the closing down of many small enterprises that had provided some income to people affected by a depressed economy."
Chaudhry said other issues brought up in discussions were concerns over the 50 per cent slash in the rate of FNPF pensions, questions over the Prime Minister's pay package and the appalling condition of roads