By the Caribbean Journal staff
Social empowerment, and not social welfare, is the approach which St Lucia’s government will take to tackle the issue of poverty in the country, according to Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony.
According to Anthony, persons living below the poverty line have been hit hardest during the recession, with the most vulnerable groups being the young, the poor and single mothers.
In order to target poverty, St Lucia’s government has two aims: one, to provide assistance and support to the aforementioned vulnerable groups, and two, to improve the delivery of these services as, Anthony said, bureaucracy tends to hamper their efficiency.
Anthony, his budget address this week, outlined two major initiatives to do so: the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the “Koudmen Sent Lisi.”
The BSNT seeks “to assist poor communities in improving basic infrastructure and services and increase their potential for generating economic activity.”
At least $3.33 million has been allocated for the BSNT.
The second programme, Koudmen Sent Lisi, is aimed at “providing families with comprehensive support systems, services and benefits to graduate from a situation of poverty, deprivation and vulnerability to a sustainable livelihood status.”
“The programme focuses on ensuring the presence of the minimum conditions a family needs to improve their quality of life,” he said. “This is achieved by generating opportunities, access to essential services and providing them with needed resources to develop or recuperate their capacities.”
For the latter, the government is allocating around $1.11 million, Anthony said.
The government also plans to reform the country’s Public Assistance Programme, according to the Prime Minister, who heavily criticized the current processes involved.
“St Lucia’s current Public Assistance Act does not adequately meet the needs of the poverty reduction agenda of the country,” he said.