FLP: PM himself is guilty

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: FT FILE/JOVESA NAISUA

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama himself is guilty of manipulation and distortion of facts, claims Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Chaudhry’s statement comes after a statement made by the PM in Parliament on Monday claiming that some opposition political parties were guilty of manipulating facts to mislead people to think that the poverty rate in Fiji stands at 50 per cent.

Mr Chaudhry said as a responsible political party, FLP did not manipulate or concoct facts or figures.

“Figures that we quote in our statements are carefully extracted from official Government statistics, surveys and statements or are compiled from UN agencies like UNESCAP or international financial organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank or International Monetary Fund,” he said.

“When it comes to poverty, citing an average national figure such as 28 per cent distorts the real picture of poverty in Fiji.

“But for the record, our leading poverty analysts give no credibility to this figure produced by the World Bank after an analysis of the 2013/2014 Household Income and Expenditure Survey as details of the survey data have deliberately been withheld from the public.

“We ask why if the Government has nothing to hide. Compare this with the UNESCAP Economic and Social Survey of Asia/Pacific 2014 report which found that 35 per cent of Fiji’s population lived in poverty and another 35 per cent lived on the brink of poverty.

“All these statistics, including the figure quoted by the PM, are based on the 2014 surveys and do not take into account the gross impact of the imposition of VAT on basic food items by the Government in 2016 and other increases in cost of living since 2016.

“The UNDP findings are supported by the 2016/2017 report from the Government’s own consultant on the national minimum wage, Professor Partha Gangopadhyay.

“Professor Gangopadhyay’s study found working poverty among Suva’s informal sector, which comprises the majority of the working population, ‘disturbingly’ high at 53 per cent.”
Mr Chaudhry said such was the grim picture of real poverty in Fiji.

“The PM cannot hide it by providing sweeping generalisations or launching accusations in an attempt to detract from the truth,” he said.

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