“YWCA 1975 Submission to Fiji Government on need for Counter-Inflation Legislation” (22 July 2016)
YWCA Submission to Fiji Government on need for Counter-Inflation Legislation (1975)
As part of the the YWCA Economic Subcommittee, I helped the YWCA (CEO Amelia Rokotuivuna) prepare their submission to the Fiji Government on the need to protect the living standards of the poor, in a period when Fiji and the world saw record rates of inflation caused by the massive increases in oil prices as a result of OPEC being formed.
These pages are a remarkable record of what the YWCA was asking from the Fiji Government- not too dissimilar from what is being asked forty years later by the unions, poverty analysts like Professor Wadan Narsey, and social activists like Father Kevin Barr:
- for Government to identify the external and internal causes of the inflation
- for political leaders to be accountable and to set the example
- the need for more progressive taxation rather than increasing regressive indirect taxation
- the need for government to pursue import substitution to reduce cost of living (today, in 2016, this would be considered a totally wrong recommendation- Wadan Narsey)
- the need to set a minimum wage based on the cost of living
- to identify the basic cost of living items and their prices
- to identify basic nutritional diets (Food Poverty Line in today’s language)
- the survey of cost of living of poor urban households (Toorak) and in a rural village (Vatukarasa- Amelia’s village)
- the fact that the Food Prices Index of the Fiji Bureau of Statistics had risen much faster than the average Consumer Prices Index which was being used to guide wage adjustments
- the need for higher percentage wage increases for the low income people and lower increases for the higher income people
- the need to regulate banks and other financial institutions to reduce their lending for speculative purposes
- and much more….
- Father Kevin Barr is today walking a well-trodden path as he did as the Chairman of the Wages Councils, until he was ejected by the Bainimarama Government at the behest of the employers.