UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: April 27th, 301 AP.

Utani-Saedaj MP decries rural poverty

A government MP has gained access to a confidential report from the Utanian Reserve Bank Analysis Bureau (RBU-AB) which is compiling sensitive economic analyses for the President and Cabinet, using data from the census earlier this year.

Joh'nn Apasye MP is a representative from the B'yantusu electorate in the central highlands of the country's southern-most state, Utani B'yan. He is a ten year veteran of the Utani-Saedaj party, and a senior member of that party's Rural Reform faction, a group of MPs calling for "significant reform", that is, say opponents, eviction of non-Utani land owners. A tribal chief, he says he is close to the realities faced by all Utani in rural areas, like those in the confidential but incomplete report he has acquired.

The report deals with one area in Utania, analysing wages, company profits and determining the area, or "segment", economy. Refusing to state how he acquired the report, Apasye says that the report "clearly exposes the massive injustices faced by rural Utani even under our own flag!"

"If the country were comprised purely of these rural communities, our economy would only be four percent what economists predict it currently is. And Utani participation in that would be about 16% despite representing about 70% of the population. This means the non-Utani economy is about twelve times that of the Utani, on a per person basis; Û740 compared to about Û9,070 per person." Economic participation is a crude indication of relative earnings.

Apasye continues: "Our brothers in this area earn about Û16 a day, while the meatworks they are working for is making profits of Û1.4 million! One family controls one-quarter of all the land in the area, and owns 43% of the total assets in that same area."

According to Reserve Bank economist Jason Felds, who is helping author the report, if the economy was extrapolated based on this one area, or "segment", then he agrees it would be only 4% the current GDP estimate. "However, the Utanian population would only be about seven million." While the population is actually 46 million or so, extrapolating again, would still only produce a national economy one quarter the current estimated size, a calculation Mr Felds concurs with.

Reserve Bank executives are quick to downplay the figures as an "incomplete picture of the total Utania", based on projected and incomplete figures. The Reserve Bank is significantly embarrassed by the semi-public release of the report. Heavy security surrounds the production of the reports, as they contain "sensitive information". Insiders claim the information is so revealing "they have the power to rip the country apart", being a catalyst for civil unrest.

It is with this in mind that Apasye is adamant, the report is showing that rural Utani are poor and exploited, and it must be addressed. "These are issues that require immediate and urgent attention, and must be addressed by this President, or we will face a crisis of confidence in the government."

On a more positive note, the report also shows the state government is effectively subsidising this rural area's economy to the tune of about Û200 per resident.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)