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SVG exceeded poverty reduction target – PM

SVG exceeded poverty reduction target – PM

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By 2015, St.Vincent and the Grenadines will have achieved universal access to primary, secondary and early childhood education, said Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.{{more}}

Gonsalves made the bold remark on Wednesday as he outlined progress made in this area, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, at the High Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.

The Prime Minister told the leaders gathered from around the world of the achievements made in education, health and alleviating poverty.

“St.Vincent and the Grenadines has also far exceeded the goal of universal primary education. Indeed, we have achieved universal secondary education – improving access from 39 per cent to 100 per cent in just five years,” said Gonsalves.

The gathering was told that the ongoing “Education Revolution” remains the corner stone in his government’s “people centred development policy”.

The session was held to consider the UN members’ individual and collective progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

The Prime Minister said the standard set by the international community was that by 2015 each country should reduce by half those persons who live in extreme poverty.

“I am proud to report that St.Vincent and the Grenadines has far exceeded this target, well in advance of the 2015 deadline.”

He disclosed that in the past decade, extreme poverty has been reduced in this country from roughly 26 per cent of the population to a mere 2.9 per cent.

“This amounts to an almost 90 per cent reduction in indigence,” said Gonsalves.

“To be sure, poverty, more broadly defined, remains a stubborn and vexing challenge in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We have reduced non-indigent poverty by one-fifth in the past decade, but 30 per cent of our population continues to struggle with less extreme forms of poverty,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves also touched on achievements made by the Ministry of Health in meeting the relevant MDGs. He stated that under-five child mortality has been reduced by almost half, and now approaches developed world standards.

On the issue of HIV, he said in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, the spread of the disease has stabilized.

“We remain hopeful that we will begin to claim measurable success in reversing its prevalence in the coming years,” he said.

Gonsalves highlighted that his administration has increased access to pipe-borne water from 70 per cent to over 98 per cent through prudent infrastructural investments.

The Prime Minister added that Internet connectivity has tripled, “and we now have more active mobile phone subscriptions than we have citizens.”

He noted that even in the face of an increasingly difficult international economic environment, St.Vincent and the Grenadines has achieved many of the MDGs far ahead of schedule.

Gonsalves, however, acknowledged that despite tremendous developmental strides, many obstacles still remain to achieving and sustaining the MDGs in a national, regional and international context. He identified the collapse of the world economy, climate change, inequitable trade regimes, and the impact of transnational crime, as threats to St.Vincent and the Grenadines’ fragile gains.

He said from the perspective of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, the most woefully unmet MDG is Goal 8, titled “A global partnership for development.”

Gonsalves expressed that while developing countries continue “their heroic struggle to advance in an increasingly difficult economic environment, many of our development partners have replaced their firm and measurable commitments of assistance with platitudes and empty rhetoric.”