Despite improvements, poverty levels still high
...draft poverty reduction strategy paper
Guyana Chronicle
November 15, 2001

THE Draft Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper says there has been a steep reduction in poverty with the implementation of far-reaching policies and structural reforms during the last decade.

According to the document, during this period real income increased by 70%, while average household consumption in real terms increased by 12%. Expenditure of the bottom 20% of the population rose even faster.

There have also been improvements in access to education and health facilities, particularly in the Amerindian communities, the paper says.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cumulatively increased by 37%, while extreme poverty declined by 34%.

This suggests a positive correlation between GDP growth and poverty reduction, and reducing poverty by one-half will take less than 10 years with the implementation of sound economic and social policies, it was found.

However, the paper points out that despite these developments, poverty levels in Guyana are still high.

It states: "Past experience and the progress thus far, therefore, suggests three interlocking approaches to poverty reduction. These include the restoration of growth rates to pre-1997 levels, improvements in social services and the expansion and strengthening of social safety nets.

To achieve these goals, Guyana has adopted a Poverty Reduction Strategy that is based on seven pillars:

* broad-based jobs-generating economic growth

* environmental protection

* stronger institutions and better governance

* investment in human capital, with emphasis on basic education and primary health

* investment in physical capital, with emphasis on better and broader provision of safe water and sanitation services, farm to market roads, drainage and irrigation systems and housing

* improved safety nets; and * special intervention programmes to address regional pockets of poverty "The pursuit of sustained growth, in part, depends on an enabling business environment, good governance, facilitating infrastructure and a trained labour force. A healthy work force, curriculum and higher literacy rates are critical to meeting Guyana's development objectives.

"A stable political and industrial relations environment and building confidence in the political and economic systems," the document states.