PRIME Minister Bruce Golding says that if poverty is to be reduced and contained, it is the economy, and not the budget that has to provide the opportunities and the resources for making this happen.
"The reduction of poverty cannot be predicated on the sustained provision of welfare,” Golding said.
He was speaking this morning at the joint launch of the Human Development Report 2010 (20th anniversary edition) and the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions — 2008 & 2009, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston. The survey is the result of a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.
Golding said the survey results of living conditions for 2008 and 2009 are disappointing but not surprising as they reflect a reversal of the progress made for the preceding years in reducing the level of poverty.
‘It is a matter of concern to us…it has significantly eroded and set back the efforts we were making to achieve the millennium goals,” Golding said. He said one of the areas of concern is that much of the improvement recorded from 2000-2007 was derived from social intervention programmes like the PATH and the school feeding programmes. The expenditure for PATH increased by 75 per cent in the last two years and the school feeding programme by 130 per cent for the same period. The beneficiaries of these programmes are the most vulnerable in the society.
However, Golding said he is still not satisfied that the resources are being utilised to achieve their maximum outcome.
“If we’re not careful we are likely to make permanent, a dependency on welfare,” Golding said.
He wants the programmes revisited to see whether the beneficiaries can be empowered so they do not need to be on the programmes.