ANYONE who has shopped for groceries or eaten at a restaurant knows that prices have been rising. Breads are getting lighter, noodle packs are looking smaller, match sticks are thinning and that quarter roast chicken serve is half of what it used to be.
As if these were not painful enough, out of the courts we read judgments of major supermarkets being fined for selling price controlled goods well above the amount set by the commerce commission. And in the most recent cases, all accused were repeat offenders.
Across all communities and ages, a survey by The Fiji Times in the Western Division found that people were concerned about the increasing cost of living, with the major worry being food prices.
Will food prices have a bearing on the election, we shall have to wait and see. In the meantime, though, we profile what some respondents had to say.
Esther Naomi, 35, Drasa, Lautoka
"School fees is being paid for yes, but the children's needs outside of school is what parents are worried about. My husband is a mechanic and is the sole bread-winner. He gets $75 a week and FNPF is only deducted when he receives above $100 in his pay. "That is not enough for us especially when we have to pay rent and bills. I will vote for the party that reduces the cost of these items."
Ajesh Kumar, 53, Wailai, Ba
Injured his leg during the floods a few years back and has a prosthetic limb but works as a taxidriver because he has no other form of support. Hopes the next government will at least keep the free education and lower the food prices to help the needy.
Widowed Shiu Kumari, Nadhari, Ba
Hopes the general election will result in greater benefits for senior citizens.
The 72-year-old receives $30 as part of the pension scheme. She said she used to receive help from the Ministry of Social Welfare which included $60 cash and a $30 food voucher.
"I don't receive that anymore and with the $30, I am not able to make ends meet."
She said she would vote in the general election as she wanted to make her voice heard.
"The cost of living has increased over the years and this has become very hard for the people, especially senior citizens."
Kamla, 66, Clopcott, Ba
"The pension schemes and bus fares are good initiatives but those without any sources of income need to be helped. I am raising my two grandchildren and we survive on the money I receive from the government. I can't work in the farm anymore because my health is very bad.
"I feel that food prices have gone up greatly and one of the main items that I feel has gone up is milk powder."
Jai Karan, 66, Clopcott, Ba
He said he was also hopeful government would address welfare issues affecting the elderly people.
"In this neighbourhood nearly all the elderly citizens are sick. My wife suffered a stroke and I am a heart patient and have just had a bypass surgery. We have no home and are living in our daughter's home. Officials from the Welfare Department visited us three times last year but no assistance was given because they thought my daughter's house was ours."