Diwali in Fiji is fast becoming a festival for the rich and the well to do in Fiji.
The rich can afford to lavish money on the very expensive sweets, fireworks, clothes. Even ordinary food items these days are outside the reach of the poor – they are so expensive.
In particular, FLP sympathises with the 3000 poor from whom social welfare allowances have been withdrawn by the regime and the 9000 or-so victims of the so-called FNPF reforms whose pensions have been reduced by 50%.
It will indeed be a bleak Diwali and Christmas 2012 for these poor families. We also remember all those workers in poorly paid sectors of our economy who have been denied pay increases under the policies of the current regime.
According to statistics some 60% of our workers earn below poverty level wages. And some 40-45% of our people live in abject poverty; just as many survive on the fringe of poverty. Unemployment is high.
Fiji is rapidly turning into a third world nation with an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Yet, our policies favour the rich and powerful in society. Trade unions and political parties which represent the interests of ordinary workers are being gagged.
Poverty is a rapidly mounting social problem in Fiji and the only way it can be addressed is through economic growth. A weak and depressed economy and living on borrowed funds is not the way forward for our nation.
But political stability is essential for economic growth and investor confidence. This can only be achieved through a swift return to democracy and constitutional rule.
This Diwali we should all be praying for a return to democracy and the rule of law. After all, the message of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil, and liberation from those who oppress.
Our prayers should also be for those who are unable to celebrate Diwali either because of ill-health or due to the loss of a loved one.