QUALITY HOUSING UP; POVERTY DOWN – CDB By Nigel Jameson The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) based in Barbados has completed a study which indicates that poor quality housing in St Kitts has been cut by almost one quarter over the last 8-year period. The study also reflected a drop in household poverty and an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent. The statistics show that in 2000 more that 25 percent – 30.5 percent – of the population could have been described as living in poor quality housing and by 2007-2008 this had been reduced to around 7.5 percent. This was considered heartening news by Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas whose administration has so far constructed over 2500 affordable and middle-income homes. There are800 homes being built, renovated or expanded under three separate projects under the auspices of the National Housing Corporation. Dr Douglas said, “”We are pleased with these results. What I want to stress is that my government is committed to continuing along this positive path – serious, committed, and energized.”He noted that it was gratifying that objective analysts and researchers at the Caribbean Development Bank, had found that the number of individuals living in poverty in St. Kitts has fallen from 30.5 percent to 23.7 percent over the past 8 years alone. “We see a fall in roughly 7 percentage points. But the rate of reduction has been 20 percent. Individuals living in poverty were 30.5 percent in 2000, and that percentage fell in 2007/2008 to 23.7 percent. Anything that begins at 30 and ends at 23 is a 20 percent reduction. And my government is very pleased about this CDB report in light of what I have just explained regarding our poverty eradication emphasis, and we are determined to reduce this percentage even further,”he said. Minister of State for Information Senator Nigel Carty said the government will redouble its efforts to reduce the poverty rate to less than 10 per cent in the next five years. He said also that the rate of indigence among individuals dropped from 11 percent in 2000 to 1.4 percent in 2007/2008. Minister Carty also said government will also continue to review and evaluate the income levels of public servants, the pension levels of pensioners, and the minimum wage earned by low income earners. He said the full Country Poverty Assessment Report will be made available in its final draft from the government of St. Kitts/Nevis as well as from the Caribbean Development Bank through its Web site. The final draft will be produced by the consultant, KAIRI, within the next month or two. In addition, during the course of the next two months, community discussions and one national consultation will be held on St. Kitts during which consultants from the Caribbean Development Bank will be on hand to help in the discussions of the findings and their implications for the developmental strategy.
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