Chaudhry quizzes survey credibility

Fiji Labour Party leaderMahendra Chaudhry. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FILE

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has questioned the credibility of a government survey which claims that 90 per cent of the respondents said they were happy or very happy.

“Categorised as the Fiji Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, it was conducted in 2021 when Fiji was going through its worst social and economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic and the closure of our international borders,” Mr Chaudhry said.

“This was a time of high unemployment, severe suffering with thousands of families struggling to have at least one decent meal a day, some going to bed hungry.

“Two category five cyclones that hit Vanua Levu in late 2020/21 had left a swathe of destruction to homes and crops across the island.

“Under the circumstances, it is extremely difficult to believe that 90 per cent of those polled claimed they were happy.

“Even today when we go around the hustings, people everywhere are complaining of acute hardship, inability to cope faced with escalating costs of living while wages remain subdued.”

Mr Chaudhry said he was surprised that 75 per cent had also claimed their lives had improved in the past year and 92 per cent expected it to get even better the following year.

“I am afraid I find the findings of this survey difficult to accept. It contradicts the hard realities on the ground as we encounter it almost everyday.

“No reasonable person would fall for this kind of pre-election gimmick from the Government knowing the real situation in the country. Institutions such as the Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF are supposed to be independent.”

The report by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, Health Ministry and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from March to April last year said more than 5000 women and 2530 men aged 15 to 49 years participated in the survey.

The survey also asked Fijians questions about whether their lives had improved in the past year and whether they expected their lives to get better in the next year.

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