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Fiji's Economy Minister has revealed that about $276 million (US$123 million) was withdrawn from Fiji National Provident Fund post Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.
While responding to the question posed by Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua on the Government’s plan to replenish the funds already withdrawn by 180,000 FNPF members post TC Winston, Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum clarifies that the members themselves can rebuild the fund.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the damages sustained in most sectors from the cyclone made them embark on various projects to try and get things back to normal.
“We embarked on what we call the Health for Homes programme in which we essentially funded $127.8m (US$57 million) in rebuilding of homes and spent $234.5m (US$105 million) in rehabilitating schools, social welfare top-up of $20.2m, other rehabilitation from the economic and social sectors $97.6m (US$43.8 million) which was totaled government funding of $480m (US$215 million) plus the FNPF pay-out of $275m (US$123 million). Then of course the insurance companies also paid out about $189.4m (US$85 million). That was the level of injection that took place into the economy”.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the change in contribution from both employers and employees towards the fund is focused on the welfare of members.
“For the first time, we actually have where the employers are actually paying more than the employees. It always use to be 6 percent employee and 6 percent employer. Eight percent employer and eight percent employees. For the first time we say 10 percent employer and 8 percent employee”.
The devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016 wiped out one third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product within 36 hours.
The widespread destruction affected 62 percent of Fiji’s population, impacted 540, 000 Fijians and over 30, 000 household and resulted in 44 fatalities.
It also damaged almost 500 schools and 88 health clinics and medical facilities across the country.
Meanwhile, an estimated $7.4m (US$3.3 million) has been received by government to assist in its disaster response work following Tropical Cyclone Harold.
Disaster Management Minister Inia Seruiratu says out of the total amount, $4.1m (US$1.8million) was received in a form of cash and $3.3m in-kind from several countries, business, civil and non-government organisations.
Seruiratu says the costs of damage amounts to over $100m (US$50 million) accounting to over 227 houses partially damaged and 961 that were completely destroyed.
He said the government’s swift and effective response has enabled them to complete the rehabilitation work in a span of six weeks on two different relief effort phases.
“No COVID-19 cases recorded from the areas that were visited during the relief deployments, 2 – within 24 hours we were on the ground with our surveillance protocols, 3 – within 5 days TC Harold passing the first phase of emergency supply was deployed and this shows that government is committed in ensuring assistance is delivered in timely manner for all Fijians despite the overwhelming challenges faced”.
The Minister says the first phase of relief work costs government $3.6m (US$1.6 million) and $1.2m (US$538,000) was spent in the second phase.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
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