GCC meeting: ‘Big divide between the haves and have-nots’

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Men of Nakorotubu in Ra perform a traditional meke during the official opening of the Great Council of Chiefs meeting on Bau Island on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Picture: PAULIASI MATEBOTO

Unemployed iTaukei youths roaming the streets of Suva is a direct result of lack of opportunities which stem from poor resource development where the iTaukei are left out of the discussion, says Professor Steven Ratuva.

The University of Canterbury pro-vice chancellor said focusing development in urban areas and on tourism, denied the iTaukei people an opportunity to participate in economic growth.

He said this contributed directly to poverty and was an issue that needed urgent discussion in the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC).

“One of the issues with the iTaukei communities, which directly talks to poverty is to do with the resources and development,” Prof Ratuva said.

“A lot of the developments taking place in Fiji is very corporate-based and so you have a big divide between the haves and have-nots, and it’s getting bigger and bigger all the time.

“Because there has been a lot of focus on tourism, on the big corporate thinking, and then what we saw outside in the streets of Suva, young boys without any opportunities, are a result of the neglect of years.”

Prof Ratuva also said neglect in the development of rural areas has contributed to the iTaukei feeling of being left out.

“So, that sense of neglect, the crying out for an answer, for a solution, and perhaps the GCC can begin to relook at some of those issues because it involves the iTaukei community in a significant way.

“So yes, a sense of relevance, particularly for those particular issues which are ongoing is very, very significant here.”

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