6 Sep 2004

Fiji Democrats say government fails poor

3:36 pm on 6 September 2004

The Fiji Democratic Party says the Qarase government has done little to eradicate increasing poverty among indigenous Fijians.

The statement came after the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, made an appeal to the Methodist Church at its annual conference to help in tackling indigenous poverty.

The Democratic Party leader, Filipe Bole, says the government now recognises that its blueprint for indigenous Fijians is a failed strategy because it was crafted hurriedly with political motives and gains in mind.

Mr Bole says the government should have made this clear to the Methodist Church a long time ago and persuaded it to scale down its yearly fundraising from its members who are largely poor indigenous Fijians.

He says poverty is partly the result of the absence of appropriate laws to protect the livelihood of workers and to this end the government must legislate a national minimum wage.

Mr Bole says a minimum wage is the only solution to the threat of workers slipping into poverty.

The ministry for women and social welfare last week released statistics which showed that 50% of workers in Fiji live at or below the poverty line.