The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier has emphasised that the Government is committed to securing social protection for all citizens.
“The Government understands and accepts that social protection is a human right for all citizens, and is an integral element of the concept of social justice,” he stated at a Social Protection lecture, held on March 7 at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown, Kingston. The lecture themed ‘SOCIAL PROTECTION: Issues, Challenges and Opportunity for Developing Countries’ is part of activities to mark the 10th anniversary of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
Minister Kellier pointed out that social protection involves interventions by the state, as well as non-state actors which cover those risks, affecting people over the life cycle from birth to old age.
He pointed out that reform of the social safety net, which began in the late 1990s is a strategic review of the social protection system, which has resulted in significant improvements in the scope of coverage that is provided to the poor and marginalized in the society.
He cites PATH as the main initiative in this regard. The Programme currently assists for approximately 400,000 registered beneficiaries, of which 80 percent are children.
“We are proud of the number of innovations introduced through PATH, which has caused the programme to expand its coverage, including the elderly and persons with disabilities,” he said.
Mr. Kellier pointed out that in addition, a grant of $15,000 is also given to post secondary education students in poor households, as an incentive to facilitate school expenses.
Referring to other available benefits, he said that the Ministry has also partnered with the Registrar’s General Department (RGD) to provide each PATH-assisted household member with access to birth certificates and other civil registration documents, free of cost.
He informed that that in addition to PATH, the Government through its comprehensive approach to social protection, has established a range of other policies and programmes, aimed at improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable.
Some of these programmes and policies include: the National Insurance Scheme (NIS); the National School Feeding Programme (SFP); the National Health Fund (NHF); the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP); the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); and theCulture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education (CHASE) Fund.
He explained that “Concerning these programmes, we are guided by the social protection sector plan outlined in Vision 2030-The Country’s National Development Plan, as we move forward to strengthen the social protection system for the benefit of the Jamaican people.”
Minister Kellier noted that the guiding principle of the Vision 2030 provides a pertinent framework for dialogue, and that the Ministry embraces the goal of the Plan, which is to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS Reporter