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Minister Defends Ministry, Clears Air On Welfare Benefit Scheme, budget allocation

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Minister Defends Ministry, Clears Air On Welfare Benefit Scheme, budget allocation The Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

The Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa defended her line ministry programmes and budget allocations in Parliament on Monday.

Ms Vuniwaqa said 2013 was a year the ministry made a lot of achievements

She was making her reply during a debate in Parliament for the ‘Review report of the Committee on the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation 2013 Annual Report’ that was tabled on February 9th in 2016.

SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula said he had seen the report and there were only two recommendations he wanted to address.

This include the need for the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Social Welfare to be increased and as that had been addressed there was a need to increase capacity.

“But the point is, that’s not enough and the committee should do more in looking into the performances and outputs and targets for each ministry,” he said.

“That’s not been done here and that’s not enough.

“The performance of this ministry in 2013 shows there were a lot that the auditor’s report highlighted, which warranted close scrutiny.

“Funds were there to be utilised but not used because of lack of management skills, poor work performance and laxity and regular supervision of senior officers for this ministry.”

However, Ms Vuniwaqa said that “in fact I would go so far to say that until the Bainimarama-led Government came into power in 2006, this ministry has never been more than an afterthought for Government.”

She said in 2013 the budget for the ministry was $32.9million compared to a $100m budget for 2017/2018, which showed the progressive increases in the ministerial budget to cater for the many programmes that looked after Fijians.

“Today I heard and quote ‘government has failed, government failed.’

“Looking at the two recommendations in the report, I ask: How has Government failed?

“I would like honourable Mr Chand to say that Government has failed the over 25,000 Fijians that are helped through the poverty benefit scheme.

“The over 4200 single parents, both single mothers and fathers who look after their children with no other source of income, to the 26,300 Fijians over 65 who get the pension scheme.

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