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More Than 40,000 Live Under The Poverty Line

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

CHILDREN under 14 have the highest poverty rate in the Bahamas as national statistics released yesterday reveal more than 40,000 persons in the country live under the poverty line on less than $5,000 per year.

Findings show that 12.8 per cent of the population are living in poverty with a 3.5 per cent hike in the annual poverty line since the last recorded study in 2001, from $2,863 to $4,247.

Women represent 52 per cent of all poor persons, but have a lower poverty rate than that of men; however, women-led households have a higher rate of poverty at 9.7 per cent, than that of households headed by men at 7.9 per cent.

The absolute poverty line is $11.64 per day, according to the Department of Statistics’ 2013 Household Expenditure based on socio-economic and demographic information collected from households throughout the country last year.

The poverty line represents the amount an individual needs to meet basic necessities, which were described as a combination of the minimum expenditure needed for a nutritionally adequate diet as well as the amount needed for basic non-food necessities.

Children under four had a poverty rate of 18.6; ages five to 14 had a poverty rate of 19.3; ages 15 to 19 had a poverty rate of 18 per cent; and ages 20 to 34 had a rate of 12.6 per cent. Adults 35 and older had a poverty rate of less than 10 per cent.

Households living in poverty jumped from 5.3 per cent in 2001 to 8.7 per cent in 2013, the report continued, with 42 per cent of Bahamian households headed by women.

According to HES data, the annual expenditure for Bahamian households is $53,124. Of this figure 30.5 per cent is spent on housing and utilities, 11.4 per cent on transportation and 14.9 per cent on food and beverages.

Large households with seven or more persons had the highest poverty rate, 32 per cent, with rates correlated to size. One person households had a 1.9 per cent rate, and households with four persons had a poverty rate of 9.9 per cent.

Common-law households had the highest poverty rate at 17.9 per cent and widowed households the lowest at 5 per cent.

According to the HES data, Haitian nationals had the highest poverty rate at 37.7 per cent, as well as Haitian-led households at 27.9 per cent.

Bahamian nationals had a poverty rate of 11.1 per cent and nationals of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States at 3.4 per cent.

The poverty rate is reportedly highest in the Family Islands at 17.2 per cent, and the lowest in Grand Bahama at 9.7 per cent. The poverty in New Providence is at 12.6 per cent.

The new report follows a recent announcement by Labour minister Shane Gibson on the government’s consideration to increase the national minimum wage by year end.

Outside Cabinet yesterday, Mr Gibson said: “There are employers who would have refused to increase employees’ salaries after minimum wage was introduced some years ago, and I just think it’s unconscionable when you look at how the cost of living has increased over the years, and for employees to still be making only minimum wage over all these years – something must be wrong with that.”

Private sector minimum wage is $150 per week for a gross annual pay of $7,800 – less than $5,000 above the poverty line. Public sector minimum wage earn $10,920 in gross annual pay at a rate of $210 per week.

Last year, an IDB study revealed that the poorest Bahamians would face an 11.2 per cent spending/disposable income cut over 10 years as a result of Value-Added Tax (VAT) if no “social safety net” is provided, with poverty levels increasing in line with the tax rate, according to Tribune Business.

When asked how important a hike in minimum wage would be to the implementation of Value-Added-Tax, Mr Gibson said: “I don’t see the correlation. Right now my concentration is trying to get the social partners to meet to consider increasing the minimum wage. He said: “It’s important to all those persons, those tens of thousands of persons who are still being taken advantage of still making minimum wage and have a difficulty meeting their present obligations.”

The Household Expenditure Survey was conducted February 11 to March 31 last year with more than 2,000 households surveyed randomly from all of the major islands.

The survey data will be used to guide economic and social planning for the ongoing reform of the National Social Safety Net Programme. It will also be used to revise the Consumer Price or Cost of Living Index, and provide estimates on private consumption in the calculation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Comments

B_I_D___ 5 years, 4 months ago

Now tack on 7-10% instant inflation, between VAT and the minimum wage increase that will drive up business expenses even more and that poverty line just jumped!!

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DillyTree 5 years, 4 months ago

"When asked how important a hike in minimum wage would be to the implementation of Value-Added-Tax, Mr Gibson said: “I don’t see the correlation. Right now my concentration is trying to get the social partners to meet to consider increasing the minimum wage. He said: “It’s important to all those persons, those tens of thousands of persons who are still being taken advantage of still making minimum wage and have a difficulty meeting their present obligations.”"

Is he serious? If he cannot see the correlation, then perhaps he should be reconsidered for his job qualifications. Or is this another disingenuous way of minimising the true toll of the implementation of VAT? BID, I think 7-10% is a very conservative number -- the reality will be much higher.

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 4 months ago

I know the current government was not left with a well maintained ship, but instead of coming in and tightening up the reigns and cutting government overhead and expenditures, they have just gone balls to the wall and business as usual, big business and banks are pulling out and downsizing or outsourcing and it's the person on that borderline of make it or break it who's going to be broke(n). As all the other revenue streams start to dry up, government keeps loading up the taxes and fees for the remaining businesses, who in turn just keep on increasing the price to cover their cost. private businesses are not charities that are just going to absorb new fees and maintain the current pricing structure...as the fees increase, the prices increase, simple as that. If we look at something as simple as food, you increase the fees dramatically across the board...your main wholesalers react and increase wholesale prices to offset the 'new first/landed cost'...they sell that on to all these other stores, Super Value, Solomon's, Budget, John Chea, all your little convenience stores and gas stations...they take the newer higher price and add in there what is generally considered to be a 30-35% markup in the retail stores on the price they paid...it's one giant snowball and the guy walking that fine line is gonna get crushed. But, according to other articles, the government has no intention of reducing it's spending and overhead, so they have to increase the fees and taxes to cover the massive debt load...they are just going to carry on business as usual...all hands in the cookie jar and screw the little man out there who can't even afford a loaf of bread. Point blank, they need to cut spending, the constant increase in taxes and fees just drive people further and further into that poverty line.

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 4 months ago

Sooooooooooo, there are fewer poor people in Grand Bahama than in NP or the FI!!!!!! Wow, you wont know that listening to the politicians and the cry-baby Freeporters

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 4 months ago

The report says that Haitian Nationals has the highest poverty rate. that can be expected, because many came with very little. Now the truth of the matter is that persons do not tell the authorities the whole truth.

Let there be no confusion Mr, Ingraham did not leave the finance of the Bahamas in a good position . the PLP did, Mr Ingraham said so himself. The road works alone was 100 million dollars over. He also left the FNM Government broke.

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 4 months ago

Soooooooooo, are these Haitians??????? or Bahamians???????? if they are Haitians, then send them back to Haiti.

We cannot be subsidizing the Republic of Haiti welfare and social services

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 4 months ago

Food stores are always increasing their prices . You buy something one week and the next week it goes up and it is all right. On ones car insurance there is a tax charge. The Government needs the money to pay Civil servants. and provide free medicine and health care. The PLP. is doing what is best for the Bahamas in spite of the fact it may cause some to loose their seats. But the Bahamas and its people are more important. .It takes courage to introduce VAT, and the FNM Government God forbid they were to win the election will allow Vat to continue. Never mind Dr. No Minnis with his deep love for Bahamians that he did not have before. The Bahamian Ship is sinking. and it has to be stopped.

govwill not chang tto

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asiseeit 5 years, 4 months ago

This is a direct result of the failed leadership and governance of this country. The government, church, and civil service are all failures, but the biggest failure of this country are the PEOPLE, we just went along with the NANNY we here being served without raising a stink of our own! Maybe one day the PEOPLE of this nation will DEMAND BETTER!

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John 5 years, 4 months ago

Sometime last year when I posted that people in places like Stapleton and Cable Beach were living of noodles and seeing by candlelight, some thought that it was a gross exaggeration. But even the government statistics do not reveal how deep the recession has cut into the livelihood of many Bahamians and many of the the former middle class are the new poor. They use to say about the PLP government that 'at least they does look out for the small man", but seems that everything they do is sinking the small business man into debt or out of business. Business License have tripled for many businesses (at the recession turnover level). This means that if businesses return to their pre 2008 operating levels the increase will be more than four fold. Many people are seeing their property taxes triple and quadruple despite government claiming to increase the level of exemption on owner occupied homes. Lets say a home was valued at $400,000.00. With the $250,000.00 deductible the homeowner was paying $1,500.00 per year in property tax. Then the government comes and reassesses the house to value $1,200.000.00. So after the deductible the homeowner is now faced with a $9,500.00 tax`bill! ANNUALLY! The homeowner may have been operating a small business where he saw his turnover decrease and all his other bills increase, or he/she may have been working for a business that downsied, or he may have been retired and on a fixed income. How is he to find the additional monies to pay government. The only other option is to sell his house and move into a smaller one or in a less classy neighborhood. But wait, if he tries to sell the house he discovers there are no buyers, or those willing to buy are only offering half what the house is valued at. Governmet collects 45% duty on everything that goes into buildding a home compared to 6 or 7% sales tax in the US. Why should there be a need to collect additional property taxes on any Bahamian occupied house?

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asiseeit 5 years, 4 months ago

birdie needs to read this and then just go on defending the ones that really should not be defended but held ACCOUNTABLE. We Bahamians need to wake up and understand that only we can allow the politrickans to swing the nation into poverty http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1...">http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1...

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