2 Oct 2006

Fiji Labour Party says poorest bypassed

4:04 pm on 2 October 2006

The Fiji Labour Party has expressed serious concern that the government's affirmative action programmes are not being directed at the most disadvantaged community in the country.

The Daily Post reports that the Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry's comments follow revelations by an income and expenditure survey that ethnic Indians are the poorest group in the country.

The survey showed that in both rural and urban areas the highest percentage of any ethnic group living in poverty were Indians with the figure reaching 43.1 percent in rural areas.

Mr Chaudhry says it is not fair that the Indian community is being excluded from many of the affirmative action programmes.

He says that is why the Labour Party had pursued its concerns with the Fiji Human Rights Commission whose investigation found that the affirmative action programmes were race based and not needs based.

The executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Rev Akuila Yabaki, says the policy is yet another case of the misuse of public funds that borders on corrupt practice.

He says handouts given to indigenous Fijians and Rotumans without complying with the laws are in breach of the social justice provisions of the constitution.