The Trinidad and Tobago Express' Aabida Allaham details the controversy over the statistics.
Dr Sandra Sookram, a lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies's Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (Salises), said yesterday the current poverty level stands at 27.32 per cent.
"Although Trinidad and Tobago was classified recently as a high-income country by the World Bank, it has pockets of extreme poverty," Sookram said while delivering her findings on Poverty and Household Welfare in Trinidad and Tobago, Evidence from the Survey of Living Conditions (SLC) 2005 in the Salises Conference Centre at UWI's campus at St Augustine.
Speaking to a handful of apprehensive economists and economic graduate students, Sookram said in order to obtain the figure, she adopted a poverty line of $665 per individual per month, which was the same data that economist Dr Ralph Henry, from Kairi Consultants, used to calculate the 16.5 per cent poverty level in 2005, and an international food scale from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The official current poverty level is 16.5 per cent.
Administered to 3,621 households, Sookram's questionnaire collected information on numerous data, including their characteristics of household members, education and their socio-demographic situation.
Sookram said her results showed that when a man was the head of a working household, their poverty level was lower compared to when a female headed one.
She also indicated that age, education and the household size had an important role to play when it comes to generating an income.
But no matter what Sookram's findings showed, Henry said he did not believe her scales were accurate, considering that she used the same data.
Exasperated, Henry said Sookram's use of an international scale that was not adjusted for the Caribbean explained why she had a higher rate.
On the use of the WHO scale, he said the people who produced the scale would have taken into account countries like Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the United States of America to broaden the gap.