Poverty down significantly - Sukhai

Stabroek News
April 16, 1999

People's Progressive Party/Civic Member of Parliament, Pauline Sukhai, says that under the present government, poverty had been reduced to a level of 43 percent compared to eight years ago when it was 89 percent of the population.

Sukhai, in her budget presentation in the National Assembly two Thursdays ago, also expressed confidence that more funds would be allocated for the further reduction of poverty.

She said the government in its bid to eradicate poverty, was preparing to carry out a follow-up poverty survey on one which took place in 1993. The survey is a structured way of monitoring how poverty is being handled and at what rate it is being reduced.

The PPP/C MP said contrary to the opposition members' allegation that the government was condoning, causing and nurturing poverty, the government has made great strides in this area. She said the 1999 budget has also provided increased spending for the social sector.

In answer to a question posed by PNC MP, Volda Lawrence, Sukhai said the capacity for poverty eradication has been increased and government has become more certain about the execution of its programmes.

She said two surveys were conducted to determine a design to strengthen the government's capacity to monitor income distribution and the impact of adjustment and economic growth on the poor. According to Sukhai, it was the PPP/C government which had developed a map to identify areas where absolute and critical poverty exists.

Sukhai stated that the PPP/C government is continuing investment in the economic and social infrastructure. She said as a result, there has been increased capacity expansion in both the public and private sectors.

The PPP/C MP said that poverty in both urban and rural areas is being addressed. Responding to claims that the Social Impact Amelioration Programme has not done anything in Region Ten, Sukhai said poverty had been addressed in the municipality with easier access to available aid. She said that even though Linden was a vital area in the Region, it was not Region 10. According to her, some projects have been executed and others have been approved for the Region.

However, she said the members on the opposite side of the House should advise the Region Ten Chairman to pursue an all-inclusive development programme for the region which was won by the PNC. She said monies had been allocated to the region and the authority refused to include communities other than Linden and Wismar in its development programme each year. According to her, $98 million had been allocated for capital works. She implored members of the opposition to ensure the regional authorities utilise all monies allocated and not to return any like they did last year.

Sukhai noted that poverty alleviation projects are executed by the Ministry of Finance and other agencies such as SIMAP and the Basic Needs Trust Fund.

However, she hoped that greater focus would be placed on the hinterland areas. According to her, if the government speaks of poverty eradication and minimisation, special attention must be paid to Amerindian communities where there is absolute and critical poverty.

Sukhai called on all Regional Democratic Councils and village councils to support government to facilitate development in their communities and not to pander to those who seek to sow discord. The PPP/C MP urged Amerindians to use their lands in a productive way and to rethink their lifestyles. She added that she was not asking them to give up traditional lifestyle, but that they should diversify their crops. Sukhai also called on the Ministry of Agriculture to supplement funds for assistance in extension services to the areas.