Wednesday, April 21, 2010

45% of people in poverty

Fiji Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Forty-five per cent of people in Fiji are living in poverty, this was revealed at a workshop on poverty alleviation impact assessment.
The figures, derived from the yet to be released Household and Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES 2008/2009), was presented to the workshop by the Poverty Eradication Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister.
This would mean that 360,000 people in Fiji are living in poverty.
Also revealed at the workshop was the fact that the Government, between 2000 and 2008 had spent $1.5 billion on poverty eradication programmes but the figures from the survey had shown that instead of eradicating poverty, levels had grown since 2000.
The $1.5billion were budgetary allocation provided by the taxpayers.
Latest economic statistics provided by the Poverty Eradication Unit indicated that income inequalities as well as the percentage of the population living below the poverty line may have worsened.
Workshop facilitator Dr Howard White of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation told the workshop that the level of poverty has increased from the last survey done in 2007 which showed that poverty was around 32 per cent.
He said Fiji suffered from the twin-paradoxes of poverty in the midst of plenty and rising poverty accompanying rising spending on poverty alleviation programmes.
He said the wealth of the nation was not trickling down to the grassroots but was shared among a few.
Dr White said that there was a need to promote programmes which would allow people living in poverty to have equal opportunities to goods and services enjoyed by those in the high income brackets.
Permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua said White was brought in to assess the impact of poverty in Fiji.
He said Government wanted to see the proportion of Fiji's population living below the poverty line drop from 35 per cent to less than 15 per cent by 2020.
Dr White, who has previously led the impact evaluation program of the World Bank, will also be looking at ways in which he will be able to assist Government in reviewing its pro-poor programmes so as to reduce poverty to a negligible level by 2015 as mandated by the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.

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