KINGSTON — Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Pearnel Charles, wants more needy persons, not currently accessing any benefits under the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), to join the programme.
He has also urged persons and organizations aware of individuals needing assistance, to bring their situation to the attention of the Ministry. Currently, over 371,000 persons are registered under PATH, the country's main poverty alleviation programme.
The Minister made the appeals while addressing the official opening of the Ministry's Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Public Assistance Office, at 108 Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, on Tuesday.
Noting that Jamaica, like other nations, globally, was experiencing a range of challenges, Mr. Charles said it was imperative to use available resources “to the best of our ability”, to survive. He said PATH was the Government’s response to persons impacted by challenges consequent on global economic developments, among other things.
“The Government has strongly stated that…if you are poor, unemployed (and if there are) young children unable to go to school, we invite you, today, to visit one of our parish offices. If you are qualified, come aboard, we will help you,” he said.
“We are (also) saying, to the pastors…community members, teachers, politicians, people who have organized groups, look among (your members and associates) and if there are vulnerable people, poor people who are qualified, we invite you to visit the Ministry of Labour office, give them (the) name (and) address. We will visit (and), we will inspect (their) situation, and, if (they) fall within the rank set out by the programme, (they) will receive assistance,” he assured.
Mr. Charles also encouraged the Ministry’s staff administering the benefits, to exercise patience and courtesy when attending to the public, and commended them for the good work they have been doing since the programme started.
The Ministry’s new Kingston and St. Andrew Public Assistance Parish Office, situated opposite the Taxpayer Audit and Assessment Department’s Stamp Duty and Transfer Tax division, was acquired and refurbished by the National Insurance Fund (NIF) at a cost of over $15 million.
The NIF has rented the office space to the Ministry, to administer and deliver a range of public assistance programmes and benefits to some 48,000 PATH households. These include: emergency grants for victims of disasters; rehabilitation grants for persons in need; compassionate grants for assistance with funerals; and counselling services.
The Ministry received some US$80,000, allocated from a US$15 million loan, which the Government secured from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 2009 to assist with social protection, in the face of the food price and protection crisis.
The funds were channelled into strengthening the Ministry’s institutional framework, which include the installation of networking capability and procurement of furniture for the parish office.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter