24 Nov 2003

Fiji claimed to be on decline in UN index because of government policies

3:36 pm on 24 November 2003

Fiji's parliament has been told that there has been a serious decline in the quality of life in the country in the past 10 years.

Speaking during the 2004 budget debate today, Dr Ganesh Chand of the Fiji Labour Party said that according to the UN Human Rights Development Report, life expectancy in Fiji in 1993 was 71.6 years but it has declined to 69.3 years now.

Dr Chand, who was deposed as minister for national planning in the coup, says the gross domestic product per head was 2,880 US dollars in 1994 but is now only 2,425 US dollars, a drop of 430 US dollars or 15 percent.

He says the index for Fiji has dropped to the point where it is behind Samoa and many other countries which Fiji was ahead of at one time.

He says the current Asian Development Bank report says an urban household in Fiji needs a weekly income of 70 US dollars to meet basic needs.

But Dr Chand says the government's own employment survey shows that 61 percent of all workers earn less that this amount.

He says government policies in the current and past budgets are to blame for the decline.