FLP Blames Government for Increased Poverty
|Chaudhry & Son Ltd|
Related item. See what long-standing FLP party member Felix Anthony has to say about how the FLP meeting was conducted. Anthony was so disgusted at the way the Chaudhry father and son manipulated discussion that he left the meeting. Click here to the Grubsheet article. UPDATE. Chaudhry said Anthony’s statement is not an official statement from the Fiji Trades Union Congress however FTUC President, Daniel Urai has just confirmed that it is an official FTUC statement.
BOTH CAN'T BE 100% RIGHT, CAN THEY? While the Fiji Labour Party, on the one hand, is blaming the Bainimarama government for the increase in poverty “over the past four years” (that is, since the FLP leader Mahendra Chaundry left or was dismissed from government!), on the other hand, we have a National Federation Party member, Rajendra James, congratulating the government for all the things it has done to help the poor.
Labour's list of “harsh measures inflicted by the interim administration” include increasing VAT to 15%; reducing pension benefits (that has “forced 90% of our retired elderly into abject poverty”); deferring Wages Council recommended wage increases; the removal “100,000 poor households” from subsidised electricity costs of benefits to some; and sanctioning increases in water meter connection charges. They also blame government for the decline of the sugar industry brought about by land lease problems, milling inefficiency, incompetence, inadequate financial support to farmers, and the loss of $420 million from the EU “due to adverse political developments.”
In the opposing corner, Mr James asks “What is wrong with the current administration that has been looking after the affairs of Fiji for the past six to almost seven years? They have provided the elderly with food vouchers and subsidised public transport; school children are also getting free bus fares, and the sugar industry is getting a “much-needed financial boost to help it get back on its feet.”
Mr James told the Constitution Commissioners in Nadi that “having another general election will not make any difference right now for us. There are more important things to address. What Fiji needs at the moment is good education standard, infrastructure improvement and that is what the current administration is doing very well.”
How can we balance these opposing view? Government has done some things that have not helped the poor and the increase is VAT was one of them, though basic food was exempt. The wage increase delays is another. The sugar industry is also in a mess but many of its problems were not of government making. Government has also taken many measures, some mentioned by Mr James, to assist the poor.
The FLP has selected the negatives and blamed them all on government. Mr James has selected the positives. Both are about 50 % right. One sees the cup over half empty; the other more than half full.