Govt. Considering Social Safety Net Programme


Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, has said that in addition to the Prime Minister’s ‘stimulus package’, the Government is contemplating a social safety net programme, to assist the most vulnerable Jamaicans, amidst the global economic crisis.
Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on December 23, Mr. Charles said that a part of the safety net programme would be a restructuring of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
“The social safety net programme has been contemplated for a long time, but not just by this administration. What we are looking at is to increase the PATH programme and increase the amount of money that people are getting, who are really in poverty,” he explained.
“We are talking to partners overseas to get some money, because we have to restructure and reorganise, to satisfy as many persons who are suffering as possible,” the Minister added.
He said that since the administration took office, they have removed some of the qualifications that are outlined for persons to get assistance, through the PATH programme.
“When we took over, there were 38,000 Jamaicans who were rejected, because they did not meet the qualifications for being poor and those are terms that we totally disagree with. So, we have removed those qualifications and the 38,000 persons who were not qualified under the previous Government for PATH, those persons are now qualified,” he informed.
“The Planning Institute of Jamaica has identified an additional 115,000 persons who satisfy the qualifications and the Prime Minister has ordered that these persons should be added to the PATH programme and we are examining this,” Mr. Charles said.
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s stimulus package, the Minister described it as a golden plan for the beginning of a new era, especially for small businesses.
“Mr. Golding’s presentation is a golden plan and if we are able to get on board with these opportunities, this golden plan is the beginning of a new era for us. The Government is going to find a way for small business persons to access loans at very low interest rate, as announced by the Prime Minister,” Mr. Charles said.
According to the Minister, small businesses play an extremely important role in creating employment for Jamaicans.
“When you have a large company investing in Jamaica, technology is a large part of its programme, so you have less persons being employed. When you have 20 small businesses employing five persons, it increases the number of persons in a job, which will lead to about 100. So, it is good to invest in small businesses,” Mr. Charles emphasised.

JIS Social