June 9, 2015
Public Assistance List increase not reflective of poverty in SVG – PM

The increase in the number of persons on the Public Assistance List is not reflective of the poverty situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves articulated this position while replying to a question posed at a press conference on {{more}}Tuesday. He was asked to explain the reason for an increased number of persons on public assistance, despite the Government’s claim of having reduced poverty in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“In so far as the increase in numbers on public assistance, it has to do with the social policies of the Government. It’s connected to two things: we want to have a wider coverage of the elderly and particularly, the elderly poor. And also we want to make sure that children of poor people can get to school,” he said.

In fact, the Prime Minister revealed that over 20 per cent of people on public assistance are children who attend school because of the Government’s focus on universal access and ensuring that students remain in school.

Gonsalves noted that in 1997, Kairi consultants conducted a study which revealed that 25.7 per cent of persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines were living in extreme poverty while 37.5 per cent were living in general poverty.

Kairi consultants conducted similar research in 2009 and determined that extreme poverty had fallen to 2.9 per cent and generalized poverty to 30 per cent.

“If you live in St Vincent and the Grenadines and you don’t think it has fewer people living in extreme poverty now, you’re not watching properly,” he said.(BK)