20 per cent of Jamaicans living in poverty

Up from 16.5 per cent in 2009

BY CAMILO THAME Business Co-ordinator thamec@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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THE Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) estimates that poverty levels in Jamaica may have passed 20 per cent last year, up from 16.5 per cent in 2009 and 9.9 per cent in 2007.

In its report, 'A Growth-Inducement Strategy for Jamaica in the Short and Medium term', published last week, the PIOJ said that Jamaica’s economic performance was characterised by rising poverty levels among other things. The PIOJ projects poverty to have risen to within a range between 18.5 per cent and 20.3 per cent in 2010.

At an estimated population of 2.7 million, this means that more than 540,000 persons now live below the poverty line.

The PIOJ blamed the rise in poverty levels on the fiscal stabilisation measures, due to measures undertaken under the IMF Stand-By Arrangement, reduced external demand for exports of goods and services, reflecting the “long-tailed global recession”, extreme weather conditions in late 2010 and the civil unrest in May.

The report added that production conditions continued to be negatively affected by long-standing structural constraints, including:

  • High cost of doing business (financing, taxes, etc)
  • High levels of crime (notwithstanding a reduction in violent crimes during the latter half of 2010);
  • High energy costs;
  • Inadequate provision of public infrastructural services (both physical and non-physical infrastructure);
  • Inadequate stocks of human capital; and
  • Continued weakness in the real sector, as evidenced by a decline in private credit and rise in non-performing loans, which are leading indicators of real-sector business confidence.

The PIOJ report also cited estimates of the fallout from the May 2010 Security Operations in West Kingston. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) gave a figure of $13 billion, while the Ministry of Industry and Investment estimated it at $18 billion.




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