April 26, 2022
The World Bank should focus on real poverty that is strangulating at least 50% of our population instead of suspiciously revising downwards poverty statistics in the pre-Covid 2019-20 Household Income and Expenditure Survey Report, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said it is incredulous that the World Bank took 8 months to revise the poverty rate downwards from 29.9% to 24.1% by re-engineering the findings in the HIES to include consumption aggregate of non-food items before Covid.
“To seemingly collude with the Fiji First Government and fulfil its wishes is useless because the reality on the ground is starkingly different to what was pre-Covid”.
“That is why the NFP moved a Motion in Parliament earlier this month for a wholistic inquiry into poverty to determine its root causes so that government’s solutions can be credible, realistic and provide relief to our impoverished”.
“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, government rejected our Motion much to the pain and disappointment of those who are struggling daily to put food on the table for their families and children”.
“This is what the World Bank should be concerned about right now and not camouflage the reality by using another method to reduce poverty rate”.
“This act reeks of deep suspicion and is in conformity to the warped logic of the Fiji First Government and its bragging of the so-called Bainimarama Boom based on consumption at a time when prices of both food and non-food items had hit the roof”.
“The reality on the ground was vastly different from what the World Bank claims. In 2019, the economy was declining and the already high prices of food and other goods was draining the people’s pockets and savings”.
“Therefore, naturally higher prices would reflect greater consumption. But that is not the yardstick by which real poverty is measured”.
“It is based on income and income data in Fiji has always been reliable and readily available to Statisticians”.
“We know that the findings of the HIES Report was unpalatable to the Government, which terminated the employment of Government Statistician Kemueli Naiqama from the Fiji Bureau of Statistics”.
“By revising the consumption data, the World Bank has effectively trashed the 2019-20 HIES Report. It therefore cannot justify its revised poverty rate through a nonsensical press release”.
“An entirely new Report has to be released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics”.
“This government and international agencies it has befriended can do all they can to paint a rosy picture of the state of poverty, education, health, cost of living, debt, infrastructure and the economy”.
“The reality of the matter is their time is up”.