JIS News

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 P.J. Patterson said this was one of the decisions taken at the recently concluded Cabinet retreat. He was speaking on Monday (Jan. 9) at the post cabinet retreat media briefing held at Jamaica House.
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.
Another strategy Mr. 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,” the Prime Minister said.
On the matter of housing, Mr. Patterson disclosed 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 will finance the construction of 12,000 housing solutions at a cost of $20 Billion. Seven point eight billion dollars ($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 has 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 be included in the final cost to purchasers.

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