Fijian A-G rebuts poverty claim

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: FILE

Children scavenging for scrap metal in dump sites or selling food outside supermarkets does not necessarily mean there is a spike in levels of poverty in Fiji, says Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He made the comment in response to queries from The Fiji Times about comments by Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) executive director Vani Catanasiga that children were working to help put food on the table for their families.

“FCOSS has got its own observation and that does not necessarily mean that there is a spike as we’ve also seen a lot of people going back to work,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The tourists are returning and that is something you probably need to cover to.”

The A-G said taxidrivers “will tell you that work is picking up and the revenue is picking up”.

“There are people, who of course, have been affected; there is no doubt about that.

“We have the minimum wage increase to $4 by January next year; we have zero-rated VAT to 21 items.

“We have not reduced any social welfare payments; of course, we’ve topped it up with an official $50.

“We gave another $100 to Vanua Levu and now we’ve extended it to Taveuni and a couple of the surrounding islands there.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it was the responsibility of media organisations not to “just simply pick one particular issue and run with that”.

“So there’s a number of dynamics that is at play, from Government’s perspective of course.

“We have to be cognizant of those issues and how do we then deal with that at home, in terms of what are the things within our control.”

When asked if Government had plans to help cushion the impact of inflation on families struggling to meet their daily needs, the A-G referred to the upcoming 2022-2023 budget and said people needed to come forward and make submissions during the consultations.

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