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A sum of $4.4 billion has been earmarked in the 2013/2014 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives, for the Integrated Social Protection and Labour Programme.

The project’s main objective is to support the Government of Jamaica’s efforts to improve human capital and labour market outcomes of the poor by enhancing the effectiveness of key social protection programmes.

Anticipated targets for this fiscal year include: the payment of Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) grants to approximately 400,000 beneficiaries, effective August 2013, reflecting a 15 per cent increase in payments; payment of post-secondary grants to 2,500 PATH students; introduction of a bus fare assistance programme for PATH students; development of a school feeding policy; and implementation of an on-the-job training pilot project.

Physical targets initially envisaged under the programme include conducting baseline studies to support the development of a national employment policy strategy; implementation of a pilot for a parenting education workshop for PATH beneficiary households with children age two to six years old; and upgrading the PATH management information system.

The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with support funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It is slated to run from December 2012 to November 2016.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter