Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the Government has set up a Business Advisory Group with responsibility for inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration around social investment for community transformation.
Making his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 25, Dr. Chang said establishment of the group forms part of the Government’s strategic, comprehensive and all-of-government structure for social investment under Plan Secure Jamaica.
He informed that the group is comprised of all Permanent Secretaries and the Heads of relevant agencies of government. It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
Dr. Chang pointed out that the group ensures that the identified social and infrastructural needs within the communities are captured in the respective Ministry’s budget and efficiently addressed through their agencies.
“Given that the members are accountable to the Prime Minister and to the people of Jamaica, the establishment of the Business Advisory Group guarantees continuity and transparency of social investment activities. It is critical that the money we are spending in social services in the core ministries is spent efficiently and well,” he said.
Dr. Chang argued that the provision of core social services, namely education, public health, and access to the social safety net, must be reorganised and improved to reach all those who are in genuine need.
“That will be done and must be done to ensure that the poor people of these challenged communities will be given hope and better services,” he said.
The Minister said the Business Advisory Group ensures that quality public service and essential public good are provided in a sustainable manner to the communities that have been identified as vulnerable.
He added that the Government is seeking to “institutionalise social investment, and a critical part of that is conducting the necessary baseline assessments.
“We are ensuring that our desired outcomes are clearly defined and measurable. This will all be captured within a monitoring, evaluation and learning framework,” he said.
Dr. Chang advised that the Citizen Security Secretariat, which reports to the Business Advisory Group, has been charged with overseeing monitoring.
“Through this approach, social investment for meaningful community transformation is, for the first time, being treated as an all-of-government issue. All government agencies relevant to the area must be included and participate and will be held accountable at the highest levels in this country,” he said.
The Minister expressed confidence in the approach and noted that the policy is now being crafted and Cabinet approval will be sought for the initiative as a critical tool in the country’s crime-prevention strategies.
“This evidence-based approach, based on empirical data, with a strong monitoring, evaluation and learning framework, will bring meaningful transformation to these communities,” he said.