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Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said that the government would explore targetted relief intervention measures, to ensure that persons in need are the ones who benefit.
Responding to a question regarding measures to deal with increased commodity prices, which was posed via e-mail by a listener during his monthly radio call-in programme from Jamaica House on February 27, Mr. Golding said: “We have come under criticism because of the way in which we have provided the subsidy.”
The Prime Minister was referring to the current $500 million commodities subsidy provided by the government to cushion prices of certain goods, as a result of increases on the international market.
“What we did was, we subsidized products right across the board. (However, Opposition spokesman on Finance) Dr. (Omar) Davies has said we shouldn’t have done that. (Rather) we should have used the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), and subsidize only for people on the PATH programme,” Mr. Golding said.
While acknowledging that there was merit in Dr. Davies’ suggestion, the Prime Minister pointed out that the PATH programme only provided assistance to 200,000 persons, noting that the Survey of Living Conditions indicated that there were some 330,000 individuals living below the poverty line.
“So if we had put all the money into the PATH programme, we would have (only) taken care of the 200,000 persons who are on the programme, but there’s another 130,000 poor people who would have gotten nothing. And that’s why we took the decision to subsidize it across the board, so that everybody gets a little ease on the (increase in) prices,” Mr. Golding informed.
He pointed out, however, that “the problem with that approach is that the poor gets the ease and the rich gets the ease as well.”
To this end, the Prime Minister said it is hoped that provisions could be made in the 2008/09 fiscal year which would facilitate the government targeting relief interventions, once the need for these arise, specifically to persons who need them.
‘Jamaica House Live’ is aired on 10 radio stations: RJR 94 FM, Nationwide Radio Digital AM, Love 101 FM, Hot 102, KLAS FM, Power 106 FM, Roots FM, Kool FM, Bess 100 FM and IRIE FM.
The programme is part of the Government’s thrust to open the lines of communication and to hear suggestions, comments and general feedback from Jamaicans, both home and abroad. It provides the forum for Government to report on its stewardship in implementing policies and programmes to improve the lives of citizens.
It is developed and produced by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).