Market vendors on high cost of living

Sixty seven year old Bedha Wati says that cost of living has increased adding the budget needed to consider poor sole breadwinners like her. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

AT the age of 67, Bedha Wati sells at the Savusavu Market every day to earn a living to support her elderly husband and the meagre income of her son whom she lives with.

The Navaqiqi resident said she had no other choice but to sell at the market so her family could have food and enjoy the simplicities of life.

Ms Wati said she could not stay at home such as others in her age group because the cost of living was just too expensive and everything needed payment.

“Fuel price and the costs of foodstuff like flour, rice, sugar and oil are high and these are things we rely on to put food on the table for our families,” she said.

“I cannot stay in and watch my son struggle for his family at the same time looking after my husband and I. So I have to come to the market on a daily basis to supplement his income.”

Another vendor, Dharam Raji, said since her husband died, she had been selling at the market to earn a living, adding she could not rely on her social welfare money since it was too low.

The 69-year-old Nakama resident said the cost of living was high and she had to work harder to earn enough and make a living.

In his budget announcement on Thursday, Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said as an economy grew, more prosperity came to a country and citizens earned more money.

“Quality of goods increase and prices go up — that is basic economics. We can address that in one or two ways; with option one, we can be irresponsible and act without any care of consideration to the welfare of our citizens while we can increase the minimum wages to $10 or $20 if we wanted and we would have to watch thousands of Fijians lose their jobs. Over hundred thousands of Fijians in the informal sector would be crushed by higher prices of goods and services,” he said.

“Or we can be thoughtful and be strategic on how we can reduce cost burden on Fijian families. We can carefully consider the cost that impact Fijian families and reduce those costs, that is the Government’s role.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government had helped families through subsidising education, water and electricity costs and making housing more affordable.

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