Friday, January 01, 2010

Fares and fairness

from w
It seems they've got tangled up a bit about the free bus rides for school-children and realize what a whopping cost it will be. So there are now some plans in place to limit the free fares. Of course if you kids go to school by car, taxi, boat, horse, or wear out your sandals, then you don't get anything. Also if your Mum and Dad can't show their pay-slips to be low enough, then you don't get it. It's getting more complicated. A bit like Myki, or Myki in Melbourne would be a better solution perhaps! And how do you assess income when you don't have pay-slips, but you are a cane-cutter or farmer? Or you sell beans in the market?
From Fiji TV
One National News

New criteria for bus fare assistance scheme
31 Dec 2009 21:39:06

Application forms will be sent out next week for parents who want their children to qualify under the Free Bus Fare Scheme. However, only those parents who collectively earn 15 thousand dollars per year will qualify. (what? Exactly 15 thousand or do they mean less than?)

Government has made it mandatory that wage or salary slips be provided, along with the application forms. Assistance will only be provided for 3 stages of bus routes equivalent to 80 cent. This means the cost of bus fares exceeding 80 cents, will have to be met by the parents.

The application forms will parents will need to fill for their students to qualify for assistance will be available at post offices from next week. The form will need to be accompanied with a pay-slip of both parents which will be evaluated by the Education Ministry.

The bus fare assistance comes into force on the first week of February.
and also, from Fiji Times this time.

No money: Tokens to replace cash hand-outs in free bus fare scheme

Sunday, January 03, 2010

ABOUT 71,554 children will qualify for the free school bus fare scheme this year. And instead of handing out cash, as was the practice last year, students will receive bus vouchers. A special committee set up to look into the scheme decided that only students whose parents' collective salaries were less than $15,000 would receive assistance.

The committee also decided that the scheme would only apply within an 18km distance or three stages of fares and would amount to no more than 80 cents per person.

Permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Colonel Pio Tikoduadua, confirmed these details over the weekend. "We have funding set aside for this, it's going to cost a fair bit," he said. "This time the money will not go to the schools, instead students will receive vouchers."

Col. Tikoduadua said that in order to qualify for the vouchers, parents would have to fill out application forms and provide proof of income level.

"The Ministry of Education and Social Welfare Department will send out forms to post offices where parents can pick them up and apply," he said. "But parents must provide proof like pay slips that their collective salary is less than $15,000."

The forms are expected to be sent out over the coming week.

Col. Tikoduadua said under the revised criteria 90 per cent of the 79,505 students who previously received assistance would qualify. The scheme is expected to benefit 490 schools on Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Levuka, Taveuni and Rotuma.

"That same amount (80 cents per student) will be given to children of rural areas for punt operators and carriers," he said.

"But licensed carriers and minibus operators have to apply to LTA to participate because there will be special conditions.

"For example carriers will need to put extra steps and the safety of children will be paramount." He said about $4million was spent on the scheme over an eight-week period last year.

He said the rationale behind the distance limitation was to encourage parents to send their children to schools closer to home. "The three stages of bus transportation is equivalent to travelling from Nausori to Suva. If you live in Nausori and your child goes to school in Navua, then you'll have to pay the extra from Suva to Navua."
So what happens if the kiddies lose their vouchers?

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