Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry campaigning in the North this week-end
said escalating cost of living was one of the major concerns of people he met with during his tour.
Mr Chaudhry said the decline of the sugar industry which had been the economic pipeline of the North had had a severe impact on the livelihood of people in the region. Unemployment and poverty were widespread.
“The northern economy is quite depressed. People are leaving by the hundreds to move to Viti Levu in search of jobs and a better quality of life.
“It is quite sad. Many homes are abandoned with just the elderly parents left behind. The younger people have all left,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry also expressed concern that over-regulation and harassment of small businesses by the authorities were forcing the closing down of many small enterprises that had provided some income to people affected by a depressed economy.
Other issues that came up during discussions were concerns over the 50% slash in the rate of FNPF pensions, questions over the Prime Minister’s pay package and the appalling condition of roads both in the town and in rural areas.
“It is appalling. Patients who are admitted have to take their own mosquito nets to keep away the mosquitoes,” Mr Chaudhry said.
The most heartless is the fee charged for the mortuary. It is a hefty $34.50 for the first two days. For the third day, the fee goes up to $80.
An additional charge of $25.00 is levied for bathing and dressing the body. The fee is refunded if the task is completed within half an hour.
“People are really angry that they even have to pay for their dead now,” Mr Chaudhry said.