Biman on poverty rate

Prof Biman Prasad. Picture: FILE.

Fifty per cent of Fiji’s population could be living in poverty in the next six months, claims National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad.

“While we have 20 to 30 per cent of households below the poverty line, we could see in the next six months, given the crisis that we have, that the poverty rate could reach about 50 per cent,” he said.

“Those 20 per cent on the margins of the poverty line would fall below the poverty line.”

He made the statements while responding to a ministerial statement by Employment Minister Parveen Kumar on a nationwide survey presently being conducted to assess the effect of COVID-19 in Fiji’s workplaces.

Prof Prasad said he had always suggested that Government create a workers’ solidarity fund as it would come in handy during this type of period.

He said the anticipated huge contraction of the economy would result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

He also said financial assistance that the Government was receiving from Australia and New Zealand should be rendered to vulnerable people in society.

The direct support from donors such as Australia and New Zealand, he said, should be directed towards assisting the most vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the Employment Minister Parveen Kumar said the ministry and the International Labour Organization had signed a grant of $US35,000 ($F77,976.44) to assist in the survey by 147 enumerators.

COVID-19 is having a catastrophic effect on Fiji’s workplaces, affecting both employers and workers,” he said.

“All sectors must employ strategies to stay strong and put in place mechanisms that will place our various sectors resilient once the global economic machinery begins to move once again.”

Mr Kumar said the Government continues to liaise with employers to discuss on how best affected workers could be assisted.

This article was published in The Fiji Times on Friday, May 29, 2020

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