MONTEVIDEO, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The levels of poverty and indigence in Uruguay fell notably in recent years, Social Development Minister Daniel Olesker said Thursday.
Addressing the Lower Chamber's Population Committee, Olesker compared last year's figures with those of 2004 when the ruling left-wing Broad Front (FA) coalition came to power. In 2011, the poverty and indigence levels fell to 12 and 0.5 percent respectively.
Olesker said the numbers showed the nation's poor have been lifted out of poverty with the help of higher wages and better social services.
In 2006, the government measured poverty by gauging the people's lack of access to education, health, housing, employment and public services, and found that barely 1 million Uruguayans out of a total population of 3.3 million were not poor, Olesker said.
In 2011, the number rose to 1.65 million, meaning "some 630,000 people were lifted out of poverty through higher wages" and other factors, added Olesker.
The levels of poverty and indigence fell "because there are policies of employment, education, transfer (of wealth) and because there is support for social integration," said Olesker. < Other top achievements of the government, said Olekser, are that the employment rate among the poorest was increased by 10 percent and 99 percent of the poorest children aged between 6 and 12 completed elementary education.
The Social Development Ministry was created during the government of president Tabare Vazquez (2005-2010), the first Broad Front candidate to become president.