23 Jun 2009

Fiji Interim govt forcing poor further into poverty, says academic

9:09 pm on 23 June 2009

An economist at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji says its unfair the interim government wants the poorest workers to cover the impact of the last coup.

He says these people can't be blamed for the dire state of the economy.

The Reserve Bank Governor has called for restraint on pay rises and wage negotiations over the next two years due to the devalued Fiji dollar, inflation and the rising costs of goods and services.

Professor Wadan Narsey says wage rises are overdue for many workers who are now being forced into poverty.

"You're not going to see an improved environment for raising wages in this country if you do not have a local constitutional government in place. And as long as this military government retains control y'know over government and over the economy, investors are not going to invest. To say that every and all the workers should show restraint in their wage increases, the message is going out that the burden of keeping this economy stumbling along for the next two years will fall on the workers."

Professor Wadan Narsey estimates 60 to 70-per cent of workers in Fiji are now living below the poverty line.