TAKING THE SHINE OFF THE FIJI SHOESHINE BOYS

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By Jona Bola

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 12, 2002 – Fiji Sun)---It costs just a dollar (US$ 0.44) to get your shoes shined in Fiji.

It must be the cheapest bargain service in the world.

But for the shoeshine boys, it’s an expensive business . . .

First you need clearance from the police to show that you’re not an undesirable, a public nuisance, a vagrant or a conman.

That costs a mere $22 (US$ 9.65).

After that, you need a licence to be a shoeshine boy. That will set you back another $5 (US$ 2.20).

After that, you are in business and you need to get polishing hard and finding customers to recoup your capital investment as one of Fiji’s much needed micro enterprises.

One of these micro entrepreneurs in the capital is Taito Vakaloloma, 17.

He agrees the fees are too much for them and most of the shoeshine boys can hardly afford to cough up the cash.

Vakaloloma says that every time they go for a renewal of license from the Suva City Council they are asked to provide them with a clearance letter from the Police.

"Apart from the clearance fee, there is a license fee, which they have to pay the Suva City Council and costs $5 (US$ 2.20)," he said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Sun, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Sun.

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