Lenora: Comments show lack of empathy

National Federation Party member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: FIJI TIMES ONLINE

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s comments about the poverty situation in Fiji shows Government’s lack of empathy and compassion towards people, says National Federation Party member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua.

She was responding to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s response to Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga that children scavenging for scrap metal in dump sites or selling food outside supermarkets “does not necessarily mean there is a spike in levels of poverty in Fiji”.

Ms Qereqeretabua said the statement was “deeply hurtful and highly insensitive but also extremely arrogant”.

“How can we expect a minister sitting on a salary of nearly $200,000 and travelling in a dark-tinted Prado to understand the daily struggles of the Fijian people,” she said in a statement.

“We have met so many families who are surviving on little to no income and are struggling to provide three meals a day while also being priced out by an expensive rental market.

“We have met young graduates who don’t have a job and elderly people who cannot afford to survive on what little retirement pensions or the monthly social welfare payments they have.”

Meanwhile, Unity Fiji Party leader Savenaca Narube said the image of children scavenging in dump sites was only seen in a poverty stricken country.

“The children scavenging in rubbish dumps are images that we relate to extremely poor countries, but it is now here in paradise,” the former Reserve Bank of Fiji governor said.

“The social ills of poverty, prostitution, sexual violence and substance abuse are growing. The saddest thing is that they involve our children.”

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