12 Aug 2003

Official Fiji figures say 30 percent live in poverty

9:12 am on 12 August 2003

Official figures released in Fiji show that at least 30 percent of the country's population live below the poverty line.

And the poverty line for a family is just 50 US dollars a week.

The Fiji Times quotes the deputy secretary of the National Planning Office, Peter Wise, as saying the poverty line has to rise because the inflation rate has increased over the years.

But Mr Wise says the families who fall under the poverty line are not necessarily poor, they are just suffering from financial hardship.

He says this is because the surveys do not account for the subsistence lifestyle of rural dwellers.

Mr Wise has refuted statements by the Fiji Council of Social Services that 55 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, describing it as an extreme exaggeration.

But the Council's director, Hasan Khan, says applications from the poor for assistance from civil society organisations have increased tenfold.

Mr Khan says NZAid, AusAid and the Canada Fund provide an extraordinary amount of assistance but there is a need for still more funds to help the poor.