Laville calls for new poverty assessment study

POSTED: 08/1/11 1:26 PM

St. Maarten – United People’s (UP) Party faction leader Romain Laville has called for a new poverty assessment study to come to a real understanding of present day living conditions in St. Maarten. With his naked eye and from his interactions during the election and after the MP has come to several conclusions.

“There are a lot of people who are hurting. If we don’t fix the social issues, we will have a rude awakening in four year’s time. There are people fighting to make ends meet. There’s a social divide,” he said Sunday during For the Record with Eddie Williams on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M.

The last poverty assessment was done in 2005, but Laville says things have changed so much since then that a new study is required. He also opined that based on the cost of “bare necessities” minimum wage should be $1, 375 instead of the 1, 375 guilders that it is at the moment. He won’t press that further though until the study has been completed.

Recognizing that energy costs is one of the biggest parts of each household’s spending Laville also announced on Sunday that he plans to table a motion before the start of the new parliamentary year on September 13 that will allow businesses like hotels and residents with available space to purchase solar panels that they can hook up to their property and then have GEBE pay them for the power that they feed back into the grid. This will allow for people to reduce their utility bills and help GEBE save on the purchase of fossil fuels.

“If we are serious we have to look further than our nose. We have to think generationally. This will give a significant and sustained relief,” the MP said.

The UP faction leader also wants to follow the example of Aruba and Curacao where the utility providers issue prepaid meters to consumers. This system is good for especially low income earners on fixed budgets who want to control their consumption.

Laville also wants to address the cost of food and rent. He went as far as to blame the banks for the situation with rents saying that land owners who borrow to build apartments are very often faced with such high mortgages that they pass on to the cost to renters.

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