8 Jun 2004

Destitute numbers in Fiji soar

5:44 pm on 8 June 2004

There's been an alarming rise in the number of people receiving destitute allowances in Fiji in recent years, particularly after the coup.

The official figures have been given in Parliament by the minister for social welfare, Adi Asenaca Caucau, in response to Labour Party questions.

Adi Asenaca says in 1997, 7,380 people were receiving destitute allowances but by last year this had soared to 20, 333.

Fewer than 2-thousand people a year used to apply for destitute allowances until 1999, but after the coup in 2000 the figures had climbed to more than 3,400 a year.

Indigenous Fijians comprise the largest number of official destitutes.

Adi Asenaca says of the total of 7-million US dollars paid out last year, 3-point-9 million went to indigenous Fijians, 2-point-9 million to ethnic Indians and the balance to people of other minority races.

Destitute allowances in Fiji range from about 10-US dollars to 25-US dollars a month.