2018 Poverty Assessments were incomplete – PM
Ralph Gonsalves
November 3, 2020
2018 Poverty Assessments were incomplete – PM

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says that the 2018 Poverty Assessment is incomplete.

And he suggested that whoever leaked a document to the New Democratic Party (NDP) which shows that about 36 per cent of this country’s people are living in poverty, had done so in bad faith.

“Let me first of all say, the document which I understand the opposition leader and Mr Cummings quoted from – and they say that Ralph holding it back. Nobody has ever sent that document to me, so I will have to question the motives of somebody in the state administration where there is an incomplete process going on and they send it to the opposition. That alone should tell you about their mala fides,” Gonsalves said on Friday afternoon, while responding to a question posed at the ‘Meet the Leaders’ event held at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College.

The Prime Minister said he was not aware of who leaked the document, neither was he pointing fingers or looking for that person.

According to a document circulated released by the NDP on October 28, poverty among the population has risen from 30.2 per cent in 2018 to 36.1 per cent in 2018.

Daniel Cummings, NDP’s candidate for West Kingstown thanked persons for understanding the importance of the public being aware of the information and who made it possible by “angelic intervention” for the political party to release the data to the public.

Before the release of the seven-page document, Cummings threatened to release the figures of the 2018 poverty assessment, if the government did not do so.

And prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the politician had posed questions in the House in relation to the assessment, to which Camillo Gonsalves, the minister with responsibility for finance and planning responded by saying that it was incomplete.

The Prime Minister, on Friday, said he has received a progress report from the Director of Planning, since the NDP leaked the document.

“It said here – the data are yet to be evaluated against multidimensional levels of poverty; procedures which are deemed necessary for the finalisation of the estimates,” Gonsalves read, in response to the question posed.

He said data quality and completeness was heavily dependent on respondents, whose answers have to be cross checked.

Gonsalves added that based on recommendations of the Caribbean Development Bank, SVG’s Statistical Office utilised a recall method of documented response spending with respondents.

“This means that the survey respondents were asked to recollect what they had spent on an exhaustive list of foods and non-items. It is likely that some respondents, unintentionally, did not give a full account of their spending because they have to give historical information,” he said.

Gonsalves added: “…so you can’t compare what the previous two poverty assessment reports, which are on the same – which were done on the same basis. This one was done on an entirely different methodological and definitional basis”.

Given that the process of investigation and interrogation of the data is incomplete, the prime minister said it was among the reasons why the preliminary data are not available for public consumption.

“They have to do, further than double checking the data, they have to do institutional analysis, they have to do a participatory poverty assessment and a macrosocial and economic assessment. Those things are not yet done. These are questions which they go and ask people and they get some responses,” Gonsalves said.