Social Development and Family Services Minister Cherrie Ann Critchlow-Cockburn yesterday announced that the 2014 Poverty Report for TT, done under the former People’s Partnership government, was wrong.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Crichlow-Cockburn said checks done by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNCECLAC) showed this country’s actual poverty rate was seven to eight per cent. The 2014 report claimed the country’s poverty rate was 24.5 per cent.
Critchlow-Cockburn said, an assumption in that report that the figure was linked to 22,800 households being without breadwinners, seemed “very unlikely.”
She said that given the country’s minimum wage and that more than 210,000 people received grants and pensions in excess of $1,100 per month, “the accuracy of a 24.5 per cent poverty rate was seriously questioned.”
The minister said Kairi Consultants were hired only to undertake data analysis but were subsequently excluded from the data processing phase of the project.
She said the exclusion of the firm from this process could have compromised the integrity of the process and/or the findings of the 2014 Survey of Living Conditions (SLC). Critchlow-Cockburn said the reviews done by UNDP and UNECLAC concluded there were significant problems with the poverty analysis.
She said those problems, “had a major impact on the poverty estimates.”
The minister said the UN agencies said while the use of arguable procedures, “while not necessarily wrong,” were doubted due to a lack of accuracy or consistency with the 2005 estimation.
Against this background, Critchlow-Cockburn said, the final 2014 poverty report for TT was considered compromised and was, “duly rejected.”
She also said the Central Statistical Office and her ministry would conduct the 2018 SLC.
The minister also said the UN agencies recommended steps be taken to increase the country’s capacity in measuring poverty, re-calculating the food poverty line and include a secondary analysis of the change in absolute poverty over time.