The UDP candidates have been saying on their platform and in print that $1.83 is what the PPM and the National Assessment of Living Conditions report claims Caymanians can live on per day.
I have taken the time to read the NALC report and as usual the UDP is stretching the truth in the hope that we will believe them. Let’s examine what the NALC report actually states.
The NALC report speaks to an Indigence Line – this would refer to income received by the extremely poor in our society who are likely homeless, do not work, and who somehow manage to survive on very little. We all know who these people are – they hang around our stores and sleep on our benches and periodically ask us for a handout. We do not have very many but they do exist.
With regard to this group the report states that ‘The indigence line was estimated at CI$1.83 per day, which represented the lowest possible cost of consuming 2,400 kilo calories in the Cayman Islands in 2007.’ Essentially to survive we apparently need about 1,500 calories daily with the average person supposedly consuming about 2,400 calories per day. The report concluded that it was possible to purchase some food stuff for $1.83 per day ($668 per anum) that provided 2,400 calories. With this amount one is not paying utilities, rent, school fees, insurance, etc – one can only survive or subsist at this level, and just barely.
So no… the report does not claim that Caymanians can live on $1.83 per day – clearly this is not living. And clearly in my view the UDP understand this and are deliberately blurring the facts.
Poverty Line and Vulnerability Line
The report also speaks to a Poverty Line of $3,983 per year and a Vulnerability Line of $4,979 per year. Obviously these amounts are far more than the $668 per year ($1.83 daily) noted for the Indigence Line – again making a clear distinction between people who are poor or vulnerable and the very severe (perhaps self inflicted) poverty of indigents.
One may argue as to whether the professionals who produced the report did a good job at assessing where the various ‘lines’ including the poverty line should be – but as it was done under the auspices of the Caribbean Development Bank one would believe that the findings would be properly vetted. Additionally the professional firm who did the report has been doing this work since the early 1990s and have done work for the World Bank; The UN; and various Caribbean countries and NGO’s .
But regardless of one’s opinion on where the numbers should be; the facts are that the NALC report does not state what the UDP claims it does. And they know it does not. Neither the report nor the PPM has ever said that Caymanians can live on $1.83 per day. And the UDP know this. But they also know that the report that they wrongly criticise contains some very useful information that can and will be used to develop policies to assist the poor and vulnerable as we move the country forward.
So Cayman – please do not be fooled by the UDP and their false adverts – we already know that they make a habit of being careless with the truth. This is yet another example.