Stakeholders seek to define ‘poverty’ in Seychelles


09-August-2012

Minister Laporte addressing guests and delegates at the opening of the workshop

This will be possible thanks to the findings of a research on poverty which have been presented to concerned stakeholders for further actions.

As he officially launched the two-day workshop on Tuesday at the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) conference hall to discuss the findings of a living condition survey conducted last year, Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte said it is hoped the findings of the research will provide invaluable inputs to decision-makers in assessing issues that need to be urgently addressed and reviewed with regards to poverty.

“This will also allow policy-makers to identify the most vulnerable groups. Through this, government could undertake a comprehensive overview of the welfare system to set country policy direction and establish an effective poverty monitoring system,” added Minister Laporte.

The workshop, a collaboration between the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Agency for Social Protection (ASP), is aimed at reviewing the results of ongoing work being carried out by the NBS and the ASP to define a national poverty line and poverty profile in view of establishing a poverty monitoring system for Seychelles.

The living condition survey was decided after a United Nations (UN) country team fielded a mission here to assess the impact of the 2008 macro-economic reform programme on the most vulnerable groups in society and to support the establishment of a system to better target welfare help.

The survey is the basis for establishing the poverty line and profile in preparation for the poverty monitoring system. 

The NBS and ASP received the expertise of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultant, professor Christophe Muller, who is an economist and expert in the field of poverty reduction.

Minister Laporte noted that Seychelles, an upper middle-income country with a high per capita income and human development index, has made remarkable strides in alleviating poverty which has allowed it to significantly improve its social indicators.

“But being a small, open and service-based economy, Seychelles remains highly vulnerable to global and trade shocks. Nonetheless, the country has shown remarkable resilience against such shocks,’’ he added.

“And this is because of a successful but challenging economic reform programme which has allowed the country to build on its resilience.”

He further noted that today, as most island economies across the globe struggle to overcome the effects of the world economic crisis, here in Seychelles we continue to see satisfactory growth and generally positive performance at the macro-economic level.

“But despite this progress significant challenges remain on the social front,” he added.
The minister pointed out that the government is of the view that the most effective way of helping the needy is to move away from a universal subsidy system to a targeted welfare system, especially when poverty and vulnerability may be on the increase.

Thus the need for the UNDP support plan to the ASP and social sectors in Seychelles which aims at building a complete and autonomous social welfare system for the country which would be characterised by analytical capacity to administer and improve social programmes, based on appropriate data and statistical techniques.

UNDP programme manager Roland Alcindor added that apart from the survey in which a specifically designed questionnaire to capture specific information required to build the poverty profile was used, the project also includes training staff members to use a new software  designed for poverty analysis. He noted that this is all aimed at ensuring that a way forward with regard to policy options is defined from the results of the survey and the policies to be adopted to reduce poverty.

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