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    As of April 1, some 115,000 persons living under the poverty line, who should have been receiving assistance under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), were added to the list.The exercise of getting more of these persons on the PATH programme is set for completion by October this year.
    Making the announcement at yesterday’s (July 9) sitting of the House of Representatives, Labour and Social Security Minister, Pearnel Charles explained that in his contribution to the Budget Debate in April, Prime Minister, Bruce Golding had announced an increase in the scope of PATH, to include all persons under the established poverty line.
    “At that time, approximately 360,000 persons were said to be under the poverty line, and only 245,000 were benefiting from the PATH programme,” he told the House. This meant that approximately 115,000 poor persons who should have been receiving assistance, were not considered.
    As of June 30, some 38,000 new beneficiaries have been selected and registered on the Programme, following the commencement of registration in May. Minister Charles informed that 154 temporary interviewers were employed to assist in the process islandwide.
    “These persons have been trained and deployed to work alongside the staff of the Ministry of Labour in its relief department in the various offices and centres islandwide,” he said. In addition, temporary targeting centres have been set up in communities to facilitate easy access by prospective beneficiaries. These include church halls, schools, and community centres. “These centres are not fixed. They move from one community to other communities,” he noted.
    Reform of the social safety net system was launched in 2000 and was fully implemented in 2002, with PATH being the main element. The programme, which is aimed at delivering benefits of cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society, amalgamates three existing social assistance programmes, which include, the Outdoor Poor Relief, the Food Stamp Programme, and Public Assistance Programme.
    In addition to providing benefits to the most vulnerable, PATH aims to consolidate major income transfer programmes into unified benefit programmes that ensure: meaningful levels of benefits; a cost-efficient and accessible delivery system; and access to benefits linked to desirable behaviour changes for promoting investment in human capital and development of the poor, especially children.

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