Poverty Reduction and the Quest for Zero Hunger

Making Lives Better for All

The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents

Byrea Hill Low Income and No Income Housing

The ULP government has undoubtedly been the most successful in our country’s history in waging the war against poverty and undernourishment. Indeed, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has honoured our country twice during the life-time of the ULP administration for its extraordinary achievements in reducing extreme poverty or indigence (“dirt poor” poverty) and undernourishment to under 5 percent of the population.  The facts speak for themselves: In 1996, general poverty in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was assessed at 37.5 percent of the population; indigence was gauged at 25.7 percent of the population (roughly 26,000 persons); and undernourishment was measured at 22 percent of the population.  By 2008 – 2009, general poverty had fallen to 30.0 percent of the population; and indigence had dropped dramatically to 2.9 percent (approximately 3,000 persons) of the population in.  In 2012, the FAO assessed undernourishment at 3.9 percent of the population.  Inequality – the gap between the rich and the poor - had also fallen sharply: The Gini Coefficient in 1996 stood at 0.56; and in 2008 – 2009, it fell to 0.41.  All these are numbers which show remarkable progress.

The wealth of the country also increased significantly between 2001 and 2015: The real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at EC $1.1 billion in 2001; by 2015, the real GDP is estimated at over EC $2 billion. Accordingly, real GDP per head of population has practically doubled from almost $10,000 in 2001 to over $20,000 in 2015.

Meanwhile the rate of direct taxation on wages and salaries has fallen significantly: The first $12,000 in wages/salaries was not taxed in 2001; from 2009, no income taxes are paid on the first $18,000. Further at the top end, the rate of income tax has fallen from 40 percent to 32.5 percent.

So, the general workings of the economy have caused a reduction in poverty. But additionally, the ULP government implemented a series of targeted strategic interventions to reduce poverty and undernourishment and to lift people’s living standards. These interventions have included the following among others: significant increases in public assistance and NIS benefits; special programmes for the elderly, the children, the youth, the family, women, and small farmers.  On every material index the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are far better off in 2015 than in 2001, especially those in the lowest quintile of the income/wealth categories.

The ULP government has already opened up a Parliamentary Front Towards Zero Hunger and Poverty Reduction.  We will, in our fourth term, build upon the major material advances in Employment, Increased Wages and Salaries, Lower Taxes, income per head, food and nutrition, housing, social welfare and social security, electricity, water, telecommunications, education, health and wellness, life expectancy, citizen security, disaster preparedness and management, and other social services.  The ULP government will simply accelerate its proven sound socio-economic policies, its good governance generally, and targeted interventions to achieve Zero Hunger, Zero Poverty, Zero Undernourishment in as practicable a time-table as the optimal situation allows.

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