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samedi 19 janvier 2013

Tahiti is dying

The economic hell of the Paradise

Months by months, the catastrophic pointers about Polynesia accumulate without the local politicians learn from it.

The official missions succeed investigation reports. The French Polynesian numbers underline it clearly. The account is overall and irrevocable: the situation is disastrous and gets worse from day to day.

Last of all, a recent document: the Survey of Living Conditions in French Polynesia. It has just been published by the French Agency of development (AFD). Some extracts are published by the daily paper, The News of Tahiti.

Front page of the daily paper The News of Tahiti on December 15th, 2010

One of the main conclusions of this account (realized by an institute whose accuracy can’t reasonably be questioned) is terrifying: 42% of the Polynesian homes are living on or under the poverty line, as defined by the official international criteria.

Poor being in French Polynesia

To understanding well the situation and the inferences of the data supplied by the AFD, it should be noted that the official monetary poverty line for French Polynesia is established by the international authorities on "48.692 cfp of monthly income by consumer unit", that’s 408 euros a month and a person.

So, according to these criteria and outcomes of the investigation, "19, 7 % of the Polynesian households have an income situated below this monetary poverty line". This figure became established on 18 % in 2 000.

The Polynesian paradise is not for everybody...

Other figure is nevertheless worrying: 28, 2 % of families are considered as poor people in terms of living conditions and near half of the homes of the Country (47, 2 %) consider that their income is unstable.

Poverty and living conditions in French Polynesia

The state of general decay of French Polynesia, its infrastructures and its institutions, is significant. But, its percentage, even noteworthy, remains unknown because no serious survey was published on this subject, about Polynesian families living in unhealthy housing and environment.

Let’s be clear: thousands of people, in Tahiti, live in slums. For example, during the night of 16-17 December 2010, a fire damaged four fare (houses) of iron sheets and wood of recovery, making 53 homeless persons. None of these houses had building permit.

Inside of a Polynesian social housing in Papeete
Faced with these few elements, another amount sends shivers down your spine! It’s particularly revealing of the level of corruption, clientelism and injustice which governs the current Polynesian society: three quarters of the allowances and social benefits are perceived by not poor households.

The enquiry shows nevertheless and very explicitly that transferring 4, 3 % of the assets of these households would be enough to maintain all the others above the poverty line. How much values the amount of the helps illegally poured?

Only 6, 1 % of the Polynesian households were this day affected by no shape of neediness. It means that 93, 9 % of the households knew or knows at least an aspect of the poverty.

A fare as there is so much, in Tahiti and on islands
It’s interesting to compare: half of the country’s people have a budget of 48 692 cfp (408 euros) to live monthly while the elected representatives of the Assembly of Polynesia perceived 800 000 cfp (6 704 euros) in net compensations. That’s to say 16 times more.  Not to mention the advantages going along with.

Also let’s remind, in this Country, there’s any unemployment benefit for anybody, except the government members.


The instruction and the poverty

The lack of instruction is, unquestionably, the determining factor most standing of the monetary poverty. For example, having the high school diploma divides by two the risk of poverty. Yet the scholarly failure among the autochthonous populations reaches, at least disturbing proportions even if, even there, the local authorities beware to lead the slightest serious and thorough inquiry on the subject.

So the rate of illiteracy is worrisome at least, and many children drop out of school totally between 12 or 13 years, at the entrance to the middle school, when it hasn’t happened sooner.

A graph which says length…
Nevertheless, in Polynesia as in metropolitan France, the schooling is required until 16 years.

Other figures which don’t exist: how many Polynesian homes survive thanks to the growing and the traffic of cannabis and how many others thanks to the prostitution of young people of less than fifteen years?

The identikit picture of the poor Polynesian household thus takes shape so: he lives in a social housing of type HLM, the head of the family considers as a ma’ohi* above all, low level educated, is unemployed or inactive or, if he has a work, it’s as not a wage earner. This home includes six members at least and it’s often a single-parent family.


Polynesia and the future

While the Polynesian population sinks slowly but surely into the poverty, elected representatives used to beef among themselves and don’t vote for the national budget 2011. Such deficiency impacts with economic penalties on the people of this already benighted country. It is indeed necessary to know that, if the income tax does not exist in French Polynesia, the fiscal pressure is there stronger than in metropolitan France.

In Polynesia, places of worship are always in perfect state…

No sector of the economy resisted during the last six years of an instability owed exclusively to the appetite of power and money.  The damage, the delay, is imputable to a corrupt political class, maintaining its power, living at everyone else's, and far from the realities which knows the population.

Nothing indeed allows, this day, to hope any improvement before the elections of 2013. And even then…

Lexicon: *Ma’ohi: (or Maohi) native, who is not foreign, indicates the Polynesian people. The Ma’ohi are the inhabitants of origin of French Polynesia, the Maori those of New Zealand. But it is well the same colonizing people native of Asia.

                                                                        An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Vanaa Teriitehau

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