Tabuya on increasing wealth

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President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Turaga na Vunivalu Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa and provincial reps in front on the Ulunivuaka on Bau Island during the official opening of the Great Council of Chiefs meeting on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU/FT FILE

The Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) should look at ways of lifting the iTaukei people out of poverty by increasing wealth and finding ways to put money into their pockets.

This is the sentiment expressed by Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister Lynda Tabuya.

“That is one of the purposes of the Great Council of Chiefs — to really look at how iTaukei can be wealthier in terms of the amount of income that goes into their pocket, the amount of take home cash at the end of the day,” she said.

Ms Tabuya also said the GCC should look at the definition of poverty in relation to the iTaukei.

“Where the Great Council of Chiefs and the issue of poverty intercepts, I believe that the Great Council of Chiefs will be looking at the definition of poverty amongst iTaukei.

“The Great Council of Chiefs will be dealing with issues like land ownership.

“I believe if there is a reassessment of what wealth is and what income-generating activities are, we may very well be looking at relative poverty which is to include the communal ownership of iTaukei of land and a dollar value faced against them because we are resource rich with our cash crops.”

She said it was important that the iTaukei people’s wealth was measured against land ownership, crops under cultivation, and iqoliqoli opportunities.

Ms Tabuya said one of the biggest challenges for the GCC was finding a way to turn the “resource rich-cash poor” narrative around by finding sustainable ways to generate income.

She said the statistic that 75 per cent of people in poverty were iTaukei was something that needed urgent attention.