Minister Luveni’s claim that the Social Welfare Ministry is receiving adequate funds to maintain welfare llowances cannot be accepted when hundreds of recipients are being taken off the list.
She speaks of “major reforms” being undertaken by her Ministry but these so-called reforms are effectively further impoverishing our people instead of improving their lot in life, says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry in response.
For instance, the much-publicised old age pension of $30 a month for those over 70 with no other means of support, means just a Dollar a Day for the aged. “Is this a livable pension? How can anyone survive with dignity on $1 a day? If the regime wants to introduce an old age pension, it must ensure that the payout is realistic and not some absurdly paltry sum that is an insult to its recipients,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Fiji Labour Party was the first to propose an old age pension of $100 a month in its 1987 manifesto. Since then the cost of living has risen alarmingly making the regime’s offer of just $30 a month, indeed laughable.
The FNPF “reforms” last year resulted in 50% cuts to existing rates of pension, sending some 90% of pensioners into acute financial problems in their retirement.
Also last year, the Ministry removed 500 recipients of the Family Assistance Scheme from the programme, many of them widows, single mothers and the sick who are now living in extreme hardship.
And now its Permanent Secretary says it will cut off the majority of the 19,000 recipients from the Family Assistance Scheme as part of its on-going reforms.
The Ministry has not publicized the criteria to be used to determine eligibility under the scheme. No doubt our poor will be subjected to further hassles and indignities in their bid to qualify for the meager handouts.