BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday May 19, 2016 – A study commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is proposing a wide raft of policy changes at the institutional and government levels to tackle high rates of poverty and inequality across the region.
Those changes include an acceleration of labour market reform with an emphasis on entrepreneurial skills training, promotion of policies to eliminate child labour and keeping children in school, support of gender equality in the labour market and more partnerships between the public and private sectors.
The proposals were made against the background of high rates of headline poverty and inequality remaining big development challenges across the Caribbean, despite several initiatives over a number of years by governments, with support from bilateral and multilateral donor partners aimed at addressing the underlying problems.
“In many cases, the situation has worsened with the onset of the global financial crisis,” stated the report which, the CDB said, was focused on providing fresh thinking on the shifts in policies, approaches or strategies and institutional arrangements that are required to speed up the pace of poverty reduction in the Caribbean, as well as to expand opportunities for the most vulnerable.
The study notes that while inequality in the Caribbean is a direct result of the region’s colonial history where social stratification and the different types and levels of poverty came to be firmly etched out, progress has been made in reducing gaps in the social and economic spheres.
Disparities still remain, however, including access to good quality education, health services and opportunities. At the same time, group-based inequalities such as race, ethnicity, gender, location and age continue to slow the pace of poverty reduction in the Caribbean, thereby undermining its development prospects and militating against inclusive prosperity, the report noted.
“This signals the need to intensify efforts towards promoting greater social inclusion, equity in opportunities and inclusive economic growth,” the CDB said.
To enhance poverty-reduction approaches and strategy, the study proposes a significant increase in investments in personnel, training, data collection and resources. The need for a strengthening of regional statistical capacity and information systems was also cited, particularly against the background of patchy and sometimes lengthy gaps between poverty assessment surveys.