As the New Year began, more than 20,400 families in Fiji have begun to take advantage of Government’s social welfare assistance provided through the Poverty Benefit Scheme and Care and Protection Program.
Senior Citizens, single mothers, widows and persons living with disabilities folked in large numbers at the social welfare offices today to collect their monthly food vouchers which have increased from $30 to $50.
The Social Welfare Office in Valelevu, has served just over 1725 social welfare clients in Nasinu over the last two days. The food voucher collections for 2015 have started on Tuesday 6th January throughout all the social welfare offices around Fiji. The monthly cash allowances have also been deposited into the client’s bank accounts.
Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Rosy Akbar took time today to visit the welfare offices in Suva, Nausori and Valelevu and met with social welfare clients at these offices where she briefly informed them about the social welfare reforms.
The Nasinu Office also serves 677 senior citizens who are aged 70 years and over through the government’s Social Pension Scheme. Likewise, a total of 1344 senior citizens and persons living with disabilities in Nasinu area alone are assisted through the Bus Fare Subsidy.
This initiative with Fiji Bus Operators Association was introduced by Bainimarama government to ease the cost of traveling for the seniors who now enjoy traveling in public transport by paying half the fare of the normal fare, whereas persons living with disabilities travel for free.
Currently there are more than 42,000 beneficiaries for this initiative and government has made a financial commitment of $150,000 in 2015 budget to ensure the more people continue to benefit from the Bus Fare subsidy.
The Social Pension Scheme for senior citizens has increased from $30 to $50 as of January 2015. This Scheme is for senior citizens aged 70 years and above with no income or have never accessed any form of superannuation funds like FNPF, After Care fund or Ex-servicemen allowance. The government will also reduce the age eligibility for this Scheme from 70 to 68 years as of July, 2015.
One of the recipients of Poverty Benefit Scheme, Ms Rajwanti Kaur has acknowledged the FijiFirst Government for its timely service delivery.
Ms Kaur is assisted with $60 monthly allowance and will now receive $50 food voucher.
“I sincerely thank the government of the day for assisting senior citizens and underprivileged families in Fiji through the social welfare programs. I am really grateful to the Prime Minister for thinking about the poor families and the increment in food voucher program will bring great relief to these families in ensuring that they are able to access basic food items,” Ms Kaur said.
Expressing similar sentiments, Mr Debi Chand, 72 years from Nasinu has been relying on social welfare assistance for the last three years.
“Three of my children have been married and got their own families to look after, so it’s just me and my wife, we live together in Nasinu. And hadn’t it been for welfare assistance, we would have struggled to make ends meet, but I am glad that the food voucher is now $50, we can buy more food items and likewise, get $50 monthly cash allowances.
The welfare assistance ensures that we live a dignified life at this age and we thank this government for showing great care and compassion towards the senior citizens,” Mr Chand added.