At the sitting of the Fono Ekepule on Wednesday last week a motion put forward by Common Roll member Hon. Terry Coe calling on the government to increase the child allowance was supported by 11 members. Three members voted against the motion.
Hon. Coe called for “The Government to make provision in the next Budget for an increase in Child Allowance to assist parents with the high cost of living”.
Those in favour of the motion argued that the cost of living has risen considerably and that low-income families cannot afford and sustain the high cost of school uniforms. The cost of school uniforms range from $25 up to $40 and includes sports uniforms.
Members of the Legislative Assembly agreed that families with two or more children are struggling to afford these costs with the current $85 per child allowance received every three months.
Members opposing the motion say that they agree in principle with the motion but argued that increasing child allowance at this time will only put pressure on Niue’s current financial situation and add to the budget deficit.
While the motion may be supported by the Fono Ekepule, Cabinet will have the final say in whether the increase will be realised in the next budget or not.
Ms Charlene Tukiuha the Director of Community Affairs responsible for the management of the government benefits and allowances told BCN news that if the government proceeds with the increase to the child allowance it will be the first increase in nearly twenty years.
The child allowance was introduced by law in 1995 and started with $60 per child every three months and eligibility is for children up until the age of 18 or while they are still a student at Year 13.
The government also pays an infant allowance of $2,000 for every infant born to Niueans or parents with permanent residency status. This allowance started in 2015 and is paid in fortnightly installments of $500.