Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Poverty rate to fall slightly in 2016

Published:Friday | December 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMMcPherse Thompson
Poverty has caused thousands of Jamaicans to be living on the streets. They rely on the mercy of passers-by for 'bread' and make their bed on the hard sidewalk.

A modest recovery in per capita gross domestic product growth is expected to slightly reduce Jamaica's poverty rate from 19.9 per cent in 2012 to 18.7 per cent in 2016, according to the World Bank.

The impact of the global financial crisis and weak subsequent recovery erased the 10 per cent reduction in poverty from 19.7 per cent to 9.9 per cent achieved between 1997 and 2007.

By 2010, the national poverty rate had climbed to 17.6 per cent and by 2012 rebounded to 19.9 per cent, the Bank said, referencing the Government's most recent household survey.

The poverty rate rose rapidly in the wake of the financial crisis, and rural households were hit the hardest, said the World Bank in its fall 2015 economic update on Jamaica.

"While rural households registered important gains in a number of indicators between 2010 and 2012, more up-to-date data will be required to determine whether this progress has been sustained," the report said, adding that mean per capita consumption decreased marginally in real terms, despite increasing in nominal terms.

Post-2012 poverty figures used in the economic update are World Bank staff estimates based on the latest official statistics.

"Poverty rates remain high, and the country has yet to reclaim the ground lost during the global financial crisis," said the Washington, DC-based financial institution.

The bank also noted that an extended drought in 2014 and 2015 slowed Jamaica's economic growth and diminished its prospects for poverty reduction.

It said unemployment edged down slightly, but male-female gap remains high and poverty is estimated to have begun to decrease as the economic support programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is implemented.

The World Bank observed that in September 2015, Jamaica successfully completed the ninth of 15 scheduled reviews under its IMF Extended Fund Facility.

"This was an unprecedented achievement, as the country had not been able to advance this far under any of the many IMF programmes it had undertaken in the past," it added.

Jamaica passed the 10th test this week.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com