U.N. definition of poverty is "foolish"

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi (Photo: File)

The Pacific Island Forum Leaders Group has appointed a committee of experts to come up with a formula to measure poverty in the Pacific. 

This was confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who has just returned from the Pacific Leaders Group Forum in the Federated States of Micronesia

Tuilaepa told the media that poverty in the Pacific is different with poverty in other countries. 

He said the current formula used by the United Nations to measure poverty in countries like Africa is irrelevant to the Pacific.

“So the Pacific Leaders Group has instructed experts to prepare a formula to measure poverty in the Pacific,” said Tuilaepa.  

“The current formula measures poverty in countries like Africa. I had asked the head of the Bureau Statistics about the formula used and he said the formula is used to measure the average poverty in the world which is if one person does not have $400 a week it means they are poor.”

Tuilaepa said such a formula is ridiculous, considering the reality of life in the Pacific. 

He used an example of a person who is married at the age of 17 and had five children by the age of 21. 

According to Tuilaepa if the current formula is used, it means the family of seven people including five children would need to have an average of about $2,400 a week in terms of earning. 

“It’s very stupid,” he said. 

Tuilaepa said claims that poverty exists in the Pacific are so foolish because people are suffering from illnesses caused by eating too much food. 

“The disease we are suffering from is too much food,” he said. 

“The reason why people are poor is because they want to be poor.” 

The Prime Minister also addressed concerns about the lack of markets for taro exports.

Over the years, he pointed out that people had always complained about not having enough markets.

But now, he said, there are plenty of markets but not enough taro to supply it.

“We have a big market for our taro now but not enough taro,” he said. 

“But who plants them? 

"It’s our people especially those in the rural area. 

"What’s happening is true about what someone said that people have eyes but don’t see, they have ears and don’t listen and have nose yet don’t smell…” 

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