ADB anticipates poverty rate increase
September 9, 2021 6:59 am
Fiji’s poverty rate is likely to have increased further due to the devastating impact of COVID-19.
It was estimated at around 29.9 percent pre-pandemic which means around 258, 000 people fell below the poverty line.
Senior Economics Officer with the Asian Development Bank, Isoa Wainiqolo says this number may have increased due to the closure of businesses, reduced working hours, and job losses following the outbreak.
Wainiqolo says the majority of Fiji’s workforce was engaged with the tourism sector, which contributed 34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, but the sector has been stagnant since March last year.
“You can imagine from that 34 percent to effectively nothing from when the pandemic hit – so the impact has been significant and this is also reflected in the high number of people losing their jobs as well. There are high chances that these people are also now more likely to have fallen below the basic poverty line as well.”
Wainiqolo says how Fiji responds to this crisis is critical to the way forward.
“If you look at this crisis in a positive light, we have a chance to re-set better in terms of the gender gap. Female labour participation is still way lower than their counterpart – so this is the opportunity where we can bridge the gap.”
The government has introduced various initiatives to assist people who have lost their jobs and is hopeful employment numbers will increase in the coming months.
Last year, the Fijian economy contracted by a historic 15.7 percent due to external factors beyond our control.