26 Jul 2002

Fiji gets a warning that poverty levels could grow

4:09 pm on 26 July 2002

Fiji has been ranked 38th on the Human Poverty Index by the United Nations Development Programme.

Fiji's ranking is from a total of 88 countries surveyed.

The UNDP's current Human Development Report says Fiji's population of 800 thousand is set to increase to 900 thousand by 2015 and poverty could get worse if proper programmes are not implemented.

It says Fiji's GDP increased by 0 point 7 percent annually between 1990 and 2000, the same rate recorded for the period 1975 t0 1990.

The Fiji Sun says that reacting to the report, the Labour Party has called for a firm commitment by the Government to deal with a reduction in the cost of living.

The Opposition Leader, Prem Singh, is quoted as saying one of the reasons for the alarming rise in poverty was the political turmoil following the May 2000 coup.

A Labour MP, Pratap Chand, told the Fiji Parliament this week that in only two years the number of people living below the poverty line had doubled to 54 percent.

But the assistant minister for women and social welfare, Losena Salabula, said poverty was part of the development of the nation.

Ms Salabula said poverty was found everywhere and it was naive of Mr Chand to raise the issue all the time.