5 Oct 2004

Niue pension hike labelled a political move

4:23 pm on 5 October 2004

Niue's government has been accused of increasing pension and other benefit payments in order to attract political support.

The new provisions mean men will now receive the same as women, which is a payment of 28 US dollars a fortnight between the age of 55 and 59 whether or not they are working.

The universal child allowance is going up from 30 US dollars to 40 dollars a quarter.

An opposition MP, Terry Coe, says the move is a luxury for a nation short of money and he insists there needs to be more transparency in government decisions:

"Myself is concerned with New Zealanders not making the Niue government more accountable for the money that they're spending and using it wisely to create development."

Niue's Community Affairs Minister, Fisa Pihigia, denies the move is political.

He says the numbers who will receive the increase pensions are small - no more than twenty men are thought to be eligible and about 450 children.