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Prime Minister Freundel Stuart looking through the CALC Study with (from left) Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett and his Permanent Secretary, Bruce Alleyne; and Chief of the Social Sector Division at the CDB, Yvonne Moses-Grant. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was formally presented with a copy of the final report of the Country Assessment of Living Conditions (CALC) Study today and has promised that Government "will make effective use of the evidence contained in it to guide policy".

While accepting the document, Mr. Stuart assured the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Chief in the Social Sector Division, Yvonne Moses-Grant, that Government took such reports "very seriously".

He told those present at Government Headquarters, including members of Cabinet and officials of the Ministry of Social Care and CDB: "A government that is not interested in conditions under which people have to [live], especially the homeless [and] vulnerable elements in society, is of course a government whose overall remit is under question. I want to assure you that we take very seriously the interest of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised in society.

"This report is bound to provide the kind of information we need to guide us in terms of sensible and potentially effective policy issues."

Mr. Stuart thanked the CDB and Ministry of Social Care officials for their respective roles in getting the country to this stage of having the study and said he looked forward to continued collaboration with the Bank.

The CALC Study was funded in part by the CDB, which provided BDS $500,000 and it was undertaken by a team of consultants from the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies.

Work started on the study in 2009, but a lot of work was done in 2010 and it was completed last year.

After the formal presentation, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Bruce Alleyne, told the media: "This report should prove very, very useful to our Ministry in that we now have very useful research that was done by the University of the West Indies. Leading on from this report, we expect to produce a Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and this will help to pave the way in attacking many of the social problems that we have in our country.

"In addition to that, we are in the process of selecting a consultant to prepare a social policy framework that will also help to guide the Ministry in its work in tackling the many social problems that we have in this country; the sort of problems that you will find, indeed, in any country."

Social Analyst at the Bank, Elbert Ellis, who supervised the research, said this was the first time the island undertook such a comprehensive study looking at the living conditions and the possibilities for growth. He stressed: "The Bank stands ready to support Barbados further in developing its first social policy framework and … in doing its first Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy."

He noted that the CALC Study presented a lot of useful empirical data that could be used in articulating the social policy framework, as well as the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. "This empirical work would put the Ministry and other stakeholders in a good position to be able to address a number of these issues," he explained.

Mr. Ellis gave the assurance that the Bank would continue to support Government in this important work.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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