10 Jul 2006

Anti poverty campaigner in Fiji says doubling of social welfare assistance still not enough

10:36 am on 10 July 2006

The Fiji Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Housing has confirmed it is doubling the minimum payment to families on social welfare assistance.

Senator Matereti Sarasau as telling the Fiji Senate late last week the minimum payment would be increased from 17 US dollars per family per month to 34 US dollars.

But anti-poverty campaigner, Semiti Qalawasa, from the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy says that's just window-dressing.

"It looks good for public eye, you know increasing it for families to sixty dollars per month. But cost of living at the moment here in Fiji is so high, even that cannot support the family. They've been good in saying 'half a loaf is better than none' but it is just still like giving them something to just survive on."

Semiti Qalawasa says the root cause of poverty that must be addressed is what he describes as the "unjust" wages of Fiji workers.