“At only $40 million, government’s
allocation to support the families that have lost their source of incomes
during the crisis is simply tokenism. It is inadequate,” says Savenaca Narube
the Leader of Unity Fiji and former Chairman of the Fiji National Provident
Fund.

Narube was responding to the
statements in parliament by the Minister for the Economy stating that
Government had $40m under Head 50 to support workers and another $30m was
available.

“I again stress that the
country will lose over $2.5 billion in income this year alone. The $70 million
of assistance to the people is a drop in the ocean. It is only 2% of the income
lost. When over 100,000 families are suffering, it is highly insensitive for
Government to be playing tokenism. This is the time that Government like many
around the world, should step up and put people first,” said the former Reserve
Bank Governor. 

Narube added, “The $70
million that the Minister stated in Parliament is not direct support but to top
up the withdrawal of FNPF by members who have less than $1000 in their General
Account.”

The former Chairman of the
FNPF stated, “I would also like to clarify that any withdrawal by members from
the FNPF will reduce their retirement entitlement irrespective whether it is
from their General or Members Account.”

Narube added that the
Minister had blamed the drop in revenue for not allocating more money to
support families. “It has been the Minister’s tactic over the last 13 years to
increase spending then look for revenue. This tactic is not financially smart.
As a result, he has, over these years, overestimated revenue leading to the
financial stress that we are in now.”

“However, the drop in revenue
should not stop the Minister increasing his direct support to the people if he
cuts wasteful and non-essential expenses. It cannot be business as usual for
Government. It must show that it is concerned for the people and families.  It must cut more spending,” Narube said.

The Leader of Unity Fiji
ended by stating that, “I consider it most unjust that the Minister is
directing the people that have lost their incomes to use their life savings
while doling out more than $500 million of taxpayers’ monies to bail out
companies.”

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