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The Government of Jamaica has disbursed some $21 million in economic empowerment grants to 62 persons with disabilities between November 2008 and October 2012.

Additionally, more than $12 million in assistive aids were paid out to some 144 persons from April 2008 to October 2012.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, outlined the figures at an economic empowerment and rehabilitation seminar held November 8, at the Ministry’s North Street offices, downtown Kingston.

The seminar, organised by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), was held under the theme: ‘Fostering entrepreneurship through training, empowerment and education.'

Mr. Kellier said that 2010/2011, clients benefitted from $2.7 million in rehabilitation grants, providing for educational use, medication, funeral assistance, wheelchair repairs, among other things.

He said that the largest portion of the disbursements was used to assist persons with disabilities to set up small businesses, including chicken farming, phone card distribution and retail vending.

Minister Kellier said that through this economic assistance programme, the Government is helping to build the capacities of persons with disabilities, even as “we focus on the broader objectives of equalization of opportunities and full participation”.

“This is part of the country’s Vision 2030 Development Plan, where the emphasis is on creating an environment that will allow persons with disabilities to function optimally in all spheres of human activities, as well as to promote and protect their human rights entitlements,” he stated.

At today’s session, the participants benefitted from presentations from representatives of the Public Health Department; the National Insurance Scheme; and First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union.