10 Jun 2004

Fiji minister denies link between coup and poverty

4:10 pm on 10 June 2004

Fiji's Social Welfare Minister denies that the sharp rise in poverty in the country has anything to do with the 2000 coup.

Adi Asenaca Caucau made the comment after releasing statistics in parliament that show there are now more than twenty thousand people receiving destitute allowances.

This is compared to 1997, when there were just over seven thousand people receiving the allowances from the Government.

But Adi Asenaca Caucau believes the coup is not to blame.

"These problems existed even before the coup. Whatever problems faced by the coup would be much bigger than what we are trying to address."

She says part of the reason for the increase in the official number of destitute is that the Government has raised public awareness about the allowance and expanded its criteria.

She says the allowance was originally for destitute indian farmers but now includes single mothers, the disabled, the families of prisoners and the chronically ill.