The Government is looking to increase benefit levels for beneficiaries under the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) by 15 per cent this fiscal year.
The provision comes under the Social Protection Project, which is being strengthened with an allocation of $4 billion in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives.
It is anticipated that the funds will also go towards the provision of payments to approximately 390,000 registered beneficiaries, facilitate impact and process evaluation and recertification activities, and provide 120 social housing units for PATH families.
Also this fiscal period, enhancements and modifications will be made to the Beneficiary Management Information System (BMIS) to improve efficiency of PATH services and products; the post secondary grant benefits and the Steps-to-Work component will be automated; and case management and appeals modules developed.
Further, a strategy is to be developed and implemented to promote Steps-to-Work to potential clients and other stakeholder groups. A database is also to be established to allow an electronic pension process to be designed and implemented. This is in addition to the development of the Social Protection Strategy Paper.
The project, which got underway in October 2008, through funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, aims to improve the effectiveness of PATH by the provision of benefits designed to motivate educational attainment and retention in secondary schools.
It also has the objective of developing a structured system to assist working age members of PATH households to seek and retain meaningful employment; to enable a comprehensive analysis/review of the public sector pensions, improving systems administration and building capacity for public sector pension reform; and to develop a coherent protection strategy.
Physical achievements up to March 2012 include an increase in the number of registered beneficiaries from 349,197 to 394,000; continued collaboration with the Registrar General’s Department to prepare 1,100 birth certificates for PATH beneficiaries; and registered PATH families continued to access alternative payment methods such as the cash card. Approximately 10 per cent of beneficiaries received payments by cash cards.
The programme also delivered 6,492 interventions to Steps-to-Work stakeholders. These included training to improve employability skills, literacy and numeracy training through the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the delivery of courses in business management, and training through the HEART/Trust NTA. Persons were also prepared to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in Mathematics and English.
Studies were completed on the review of the Beneficiary Identification System (BIS), while reviews were done of the social safety net provisions, and the state’s capacity to prepare wards for independent living.
The project was originally slated for completion in March 2013 but has been extended to September 2013 to complete necessary activities.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter