7 Jun 2007

Survey shows increasing poverty in Fiji rural areas

9:49 am on 7 June 2007

The latest survey on household income and expenditure in Fiji reveals that poverty is worst among rural people and almost equally shared among all races.

Launching the survey results last night, senior economist Dr Wadan Narsey said the highest incidence of poverty - 47% - is found among rural Indo-Fijians as a result of the decline of the sugar and garment industries and the non-renewal of land leases.

But the study also found that 39% of rural indigenous Fijians and 45% of minority races in rural areas face poverty as well.

Dr Narsey says while the differences between rural and urban poverty are large, the difference in poverty among the races is small.

Dr Narsey says he gave a seminar early last year but politicians did not even want to know or discuss his findings that the "poorest" group are rural Indo-Fijians and the "largest" group of poor are rural Fijians.

He says both needed government assistance but political leaders see the problems of their own people but ignore the reality that poverty affects both major ethnic communities.

Dr Narsey say this terrible weakness in Fiji's political system partly explains the deep political schism in the country's society today.