11 Oct 2010

Economist says income inequality in Fiji a growing problem

7:59 pm on 11 October 2010

A Professor of Economics at the University of the South Pacific, Wadan Narsey, says overall, poverty has declined in Fiji but there's been an increase in income inequality.

Professor Narsey has been analysing the Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics' Household Income and Expenditure Survey for last year.

He says after inflation average household incomes have increased by 12 percent since 2003 and urban people saw their incomes rise by more than a quarter.

But he says rural people in Fiji are 14 percent worse off.

"The bottom 20 percent of the population, their share of total household income has kept falling and the top 20 percent the income has kept rising. I think of the lowest 20 percent maybe 75 percent of them will be in the rural areas."

Professor Narsey says almost two thirds of the poor are indigenous Fijians and that proportion hasn't changed much since the last census in 2007.