30 Nov 2005

Fiji minister dismisses reports on poverty

4:24 pm on 30 November 2005

The Fiji government denies that indigenous Fijians living without adequate housing, electricity or water are living in poverty.

The Minister for Poverty Alleviation, Adi Asenaca Caucau, says they are facing hardship, not poverty, adding that poverty is not on the rise in the country.

Her comments came after the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Ovini Bokini, urged provincial chiefs to tackle poverty, which now officially stands at 29.5 percent of the indigenous population.

Adi Asenaca says no-one has ever died of hunger in Fiji and some of those living in squatter settlements in urban areas have all the modern conveniences.

"You have people there who have TV, who have phones, who have cars, who even own a shop. And then some of them are landlords, making money from the other squatters and the squatter settlements are not permanent."

Adi Asenaca disputes research that suggests that nearly half of Fiji's ethnic Indians are living below the poverty line.