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Tuesday, January 10, 2006 

Committee to 'reconsider' minimum poverty level
Observer Reporter
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CABINET has mandated the Human Resource Committee to reconsider the minimum standard of living below which no Jamaican should live, as a guiding barometer in the fight to eliminate poverty, Prime Minister PJ Patterson said Monday at the post-Cabinet retreat media briefing held at Jamaica House.

A statement issued by Jamaica House on Monday said "some 675,600 persons were lifted out of poverty in the last 14 years, representing a reduction in poverty levels from 44.6 per cent in 1991 to 16.9 per cent last year".

"Factors critical to the reduction in poverty levels include poverty reduction initiatives of the government, reduction in inflation, growth in real wages and reduction in relative food prices. Growth in the informal sector and increase in remittances are also identified as important elements," the statement said.

Another strategy Patterson said would involve the strengthening of integration mechanisms to facilitate better and more effective coordination of poverty reduction strategies."We will seek to reduce the number of inter-related programmes being delivered by several agencies scattered throughout the government," Patterson said.

On the matter of housing, the prime minister said that the government would contribute $30 billion over the next three years to the provision of shelter for approximately 35,000 Jamaicans.

Of this amount, the National Housing Trust (NHT) would finance the construction of 12,000 housing solutions at a cost of $20 billion. $7.8 billion will be spent by the National Housing Development Corporation on the construction of 10,540 houses while the Ministry of Housing will assist 12,000 families with the building of houses at a value of $150 million.

The prime minister said Cabinet had also requested for consideration, submissions as to how interest payment on mortgages could be made tax deductible and for the NHT to underwrite the cost of infrastructure for new housing development and remove it from the final cost of each housing solution.

A professional study is to be undertaken to determine if those funds could be recovered from rates and utility charge rather than to have it included in the final cost to purchasers.

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