By abandoning a special fund established to help needy community groups, Government is creating a gap in the fight against poverty.
That’s the view of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, under whose Barbados Labour Party administration the Social Investment Fund, repealed today by the Lower House of Parliament, was started.
The St. Peter MP, speaking before the passage of the Social Investment Fund Repeal Act 2013, said while there were those who saw fighting poverty as receiving handouts or some other form of “immediate gratification”, the fund came into being to fight poverty by funding community groups and allowing them to support the creation of small enterprises across the island.
“The fund that the fund was intended to serve is still a valid purpose,” the former minister of finance stated.
Arthur said his “only concern” was that the funds were transferred and there was now “a gap in the fight against poverty”.
“The fight against poverty can be fought by doing things of an infrastructural nature to improve living conditions, it can be fought by enabling individuals to create their own enterprises, but the fight against poverty in Barbados I think is not going to be rounded and complete unless we also encourage community organisations to become involved in that fight, not by handouts but by enterprise creation,” he said.
“I want strongly to say to the Government that we should be looking to accentuate rather than diminish the role that community organisations can play in helping to fight poverty through enterprise creation.
“The best way through which we can fight poverty is through creation of enterprises, the expansion of existing ones. The handout approach takes us that far but no further,” he stated.
Arthur also said there were international lending institutions that liked to see “these kind of legislative arrangements in place to support poverty eradication through enterprise creation”.
“One is in Jamaica, but I am also aware that there are other social investment funds in other parts of the world attracting resources from multilateral institutions and if the Government were to come up with a project to have an entity like this to deal with poverty eradication through community organisations, and was to borrow resources to amplify the scope of these institutions to get that job done, I think it would be resources well spent,” he told the House. (SC)