GCC meeting: FLP endorses Methodist call

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Former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry shake hands with Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka after the Thanksgiving and National Reconciliation church service at the Vodafone Arena in Suva on Sunday, May 14, 2023. Picture: FT FILE / JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Fiji Labour Party (FLP) Mahendra Chaudhry says his party fully endorses the call made by Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma president the Reverend Ili Vunisuwai, challenging members of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) to refrain from fulfilling their own agenda.

Mr Vunisuwai urged the representatives to make it their priority to discuss ways to address the issue of iTaukei living in poverty and look after the people under their care.

Mr Chaudhry said this was a very strong social message from the president of the church to the GCC, which his party fully endorsed.

“The statistics about the large numbers of iTaukei living in poverty is both alarming and shocking and must be addressed urgently,” he said.

“The GCC as an indigenous Fijian institution must give this urgent priority and come up with solutions to deal with the problem.”

He also pointed out that it was incorrect to say that 75 per cent of the iTaukei lived in poverty, as the Household and Income Survey (HIES) revealed that the iTaukei made up 75 per cent of all the people living in poverty in Fiji.

Mr Chaudhry said this was not the same as saying that 75 per cent of all iTaukei lived in poverty.

“Nonetheless, the statistic is alarming and has serious socio-economic repercussions for the nation.

“Poverty is perhaps the most critical social problem facing our nation today and must be tackled on a holistic basis.

“Labour looks forward to some tangible policies from the GCC on this.”