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Will the Poor have a Chance?

How views change when you move up the ladder!

Labour Party is shocked at the statement from Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran that “many” of the 96,000 recipients of the State’s social welfare allowance should not be getting it.

She was speaking at a National Federation Party meeting in Rakiraki last Sunday.

“This is shocking coming from a person who largely based her election campaign on the desperate plight of women around the country, many of whom she stated were hard pressed to feed their families,” said Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

Moreover, in an interview last October on the International Day for Eradication of Poverty, Ms Kiran was quoted saying: “We have heard of so many women in destitution but they have no social welfare programme”.

She added that despite the opening up of borders “many Fijians still continued to struggle” (Fiji Times 19 October 2022).

Not only this, her party had campaigned big on the promise to increase social welfare allowance claiming that over 40% of Fiji's people were living in poverty.

In a population of 900,000 - that means about 350,000 living in poverty. 90,000 constitutes only 25% in poverty. Where is the case for a reduction in the number of recipients of the social welfare programme??

Three months after taking office, Ms Kiran’s views appear to have changed drastically on the number of people living in poverty and in need of State assistance.

One may ask what has the Coalition government done since January this year to alleviate poverty or make any marked changes to the lives of the “many women” who Kiran claimed were in destitution last October.

“Just last week, Ms Kiran’s party leader and Finance Minister Biman Prasad warned people on the “inevitability of tax increases”. And now she is questioning the eligibility of many recipients on the welfare list, possibly with a view to removing them,” said Mr Chaudhry.


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