A-G: Poverty rate decreasing

Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: FT FILE

THE overall national poverty rate in Fiji is decreasing, says Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in reply to claims made by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.

The household income and expenditure survey, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said, was the only authoritative source that measured poverty statistics in Fiji which was available from 2013-2014.

Rural poverty in Fiji, he said, had decreased by 43 per cent in 2008 to 2009 and 36.7 per cent in 2013 to 2014.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said urban poverty had also decreased by 28 per cent in 2002 to 2003 and 19.8 per cent in 2013 to 2014.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said claims that tax reforms were benefitting the wealthy in Fiji were false.

“Our tax system is becoming fairer and disadvantaged Fijians are paying fewer taxes because of the reforms we have put in place. We have brought down VAT across the board from 15 per cent to 9 per cent and Fijians who earn under $30,000 a year have been completely freed from paying any income tax at all,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

According to a latest study by the International Monetary Fund, the gap between the rich and the disadvantaged had decreased in Fiji.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government supported Fijian families by increasing social wages.

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