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Breadwinner struggles to put food on the table


Jun 10, 2021 02:24:03 PM

Breadwinner struggles to put food on the table A grass cutter who used to earn $250 a week now has to rely on shared food as he cannot earn a living during this coronavirus pandemic.

Life has become very difficult for 52-year-old Prem Chand of Narere Stage 1 lives with his wife Ashleen, who is also unemployed.

The couple looks after his bedridden mother and disabled brother.

Chand in an exclusive interview with FijiLive said he applied for the food assistance given by the government but did not receive any.

He said the family is relying on shared food as he cannot earn a living during this coronavirus pandemic as he does not want to put his brother and family at high risk.

 “When things were normal, I used to cut grass and get some money but life has become very difficult now. I didn’t even receive $90 government assistance through MPaisa,” he said.

“I cannot buy food during this coronavirus pandemic as I do not have any money. We cannot go out from this area to look for work or food for our families.

“This is the time when people look to the government for assistance. Some of us have not worked for more than a month.

“For the last three weeks when we called the government’s helpline but no food rations were being delivered to us when Narere Stage One was under lockdown.

“There must have been a breakdown in communication. Not every family receives assistance given out by the government, so we had to call a non-governmental organisation,” he said.

He said while many remain hopeful things will return to normal, small business entrepreneurs are struggling to make a living let alone put food on the table.

“The current pandemic has unsympathetically affected both private and business sectors alike. The cessation of businesses here in the central division is on the rise,” he said.

“It has been more than six weeks now since I last sold cut grass around the area. We have no money to pay for food and bills.

“While my mother’s monthly social welfare assistance takes care of her medical bills, we are still struggling to put food on the table,” he said.

Chand is hoping there will be better assistance provided by the government while announcing the national budget announcement next month.

“Australia and New Zealand had provided budget assistance to the Fijian government, hopefully, some money will be allocated to help those who have lost during this pandemic,” he said.

Minister for Commerce Faiyaz Koya said the ministry has rolled out a business impact survey designed with a specific focus on the socio-economic crisis triggered by the second wave.

Koya said the survey will assist the ministry in better addressing the challenges businesses are currently facing and inform strategies that ensure long-term sustainability.

“The survey focuses on key elements that are critical for the government. This includes the impact of the second wave of coronavirus on revenue and employment,” he said.

He said the budget for the next financial year will focus on socio-economic recovery, data gathered through this survey will be used as a tool for policy development.

By Nacanieli Tuilevuka


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