30 Nov 2005

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs urged to ease plight of poor indigenous Fijians

11:25 am on 30 November 2005

Members of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs have been urged to help reduce poverty among indigenous Fijians, which now officially stands at 29.5% of their population.

Radio Fiji reports that the call came from the chairman of the Great Council, Ratu Ovini Bokini, when he opened their last meeting for the year in Suva yesterday

Ratu Ovini said statistics show that three out of ten indigenous Fijians live below the poverty line.

He said this is despite the fact that they own over 90% of all the land in the country as well as sea, timber and other resources.

Ratu Ovini said Fijian institutions like the Native Lands Trust Board and the Fijian Affairs Board should do all they can to develop poverty alleviation strategies to help indigenous Fijians break out of the poverty cycle.

He said it is time Fijian institutions ensure that landowners and other resource owners receive fair and equitable returns on their assets.

Otherwise, he said, they would not be able to raise their economic status.