Poverty On Decline In St. Kitts

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St. Kitts’ Citizens Earn More

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
March 06, 2009 (CUOPM)

A Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) study indicates that poverty is on the decline in St. Kitts.

The Report, which does not include Nevis, also shows a drop in household poverty, a significant decrease in indigents and an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

Minister of State for Information, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty said the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration will also redouble its efforts to reduce the poverty rate to less than 10 percent in the next five years.

In the Post Cabinet Briefing, Minister Carty said Ministers under the Chairmanship of Prime Minster Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas reviewed the draft Country Poverty Assessment (CPA) report conducted by KAIRI, which assessed the unemployment rate was assessed at 6.3 percent.

He said the research for the CPA was conducted in 2007/2008 and statistics reveal that the poverty rate for individuals stood at 23.7 percent as opposed to 30.5 percent when a similar exercise was conducted in 2000.

“It must be remarked however, that this assessment was done prior to the minimum wage increasing from $250 to $320, and at a time when the price of fuel and electricity rates were exorbitantly high,” said Minister Carty, who also disclosed that the household poverty rate dropped from 16 percent in 2000 to 14.8 percent in 2007/2008.

He said also that the rate of indigence among individuals dropped from 11 percent in 2000 to 1.4 percent in 2007/2008.

“The proportion of persons living in poor quality housing moved from 30.5 percent in 2000 to 7.5 percent in 2007/2008. The proportion of the housing assessed to be of poor quality is 8.6 percent.” Carty disclosed.

He said that the poverty line for St. Kitts was estimated to be at EC$7,329 per adult per year or approximately $140 per adult per week.

“That is, the new minimum wage approved by the Labour Administration and implemented in November of 2008, is 229 percent above the estimated poverty line. It is therefore estimated that with a 28 percent increase in the minimum wage over the last four months, and the cost of fuel and electricity having fallen rapidly, the poverty rate, although having moved significantly in the right direction, that is to say, recording a reduction by 7 percent over the last few years, the current poverty rate can be more accurately placed at 15 percent,” said Carty.

He also said that the indigence line was estimated to be at EC$2,595 per adult per annum or $50 per adult per week.

Minister Carty said that St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government is satisfied with the positive movement of indicators related to the level of indigence and the quality of housing for citizens.

“A 7 percent reduction in the poverty rate was deemed as only appreciable and the government has vowed to redouble its efforts to bring the level of poverty in St. Kitts to less than 10 percent in the next 5 years. This, cabinet agreed, is highly achievable given the current rate of development in the country and given our renewable energy programme that will make St. Kitts almost completely immune to the volatility in the price of oil,” he said.

Minister Carty also said that Government will also continue to review and evaluate the income levels of public servants, the pension levels of pensioners, and the minimum wage earned by low income earners.

He said that the full Country Poverty Assessment Report will be made available in its final draft from the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis as well as from the Caribbean Development Bank through its website. The final draft will be produced by the consultant, KAIRI, within the next month or two.

In addition, during the course of the next two months, community discussions and one national consultation will be held in the island of St. Kitts during which consultants from the Caribbean Development Bank will be on hand to help in the discussions of the findings and their implications for the developmental strategy.

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