25 Feb 2004

More people in Fiji expected to fall below official poverty line

4:11 pm on 25 February 2004

More people in Fiji are expected to fall below the official poverty line when it is announced mid-year.

The chief statistician of households, Epeli Waqavonovono, made the statement after a survey of urban incomes by the Bureau of Statistics showed a widening gap between the rich and poor.

The survey found that the lowest ten percent of earners received only two percent of the income available while the top ten percent took almost one third of the total income.

Mr Waqavonovono says the gap has become obvious in urban areas.

"Just from observations that you see - mushrooming squatter populations and people who have shifted to the urban areas from rural areas and so forth. So, there's been a big growth to urban drift, so we'd expect a lot of people to be quite poor given the lack of jobs and so forth."

Mr Waqavonovono says the poor spend almost 50 percent of their income on food and basic items while the rich spent 19 percent.