KINGSTON — Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Representative in Jamaica, Ancile Brewster, says the agency has expressed a willingness to extend its support for the Government's social safety net initiative, the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
The Bank’s input included a US$15 million loan, which the government secured in 2009 to assist with social protection, in the face of the food price and security crisis arising.
Speaking at last week’s opening of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Public Assistance Parish Office for Kingston and St. Andrew, at Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, Mr. Brewster underscored the importance of the government’s programmes in meeting the needs of the society's marginalised.
“These programmes of social support, in which we are partnering and supporting the efforts of the government in carrying out, are of extreme importance to us. In fact, we look very keenly at the execution of these programmes. We work with the government to make sure that we are continuously monitoring the value of these programmes, to ensure that persons who really need the support are in fact getting that support. We are very willing to continue supporting the government in this,” he informed.
Mr. Brewster said the development financing institution is concerned about the extent of inter-generational poverty existing in a number of its 51-member countries, including Jamaica, and the impact it has on families, particularly children.
He defined inter-generational poverty as the inability of successive generations to adequately fulfill the the needs of their off-springs, particularly in the area of nutrition, thereby stymieing their health and educational development.
“Research shows that, early childhood nutrition is important for learning, developing the brain, the learning capacity, and some parents are unable to provide them with the requirements to go to school. This shows that, to a large extent, when parents don’t have money, the first thing that suffers is school attendance. This results in the child not having the capacity to move ahead in the society,” he pointed out.
In this regard, Mr. Brewster said one of the key elements of PATH and the IDB’s support of the initiative is to stop the movement of inter-generational poverty, where children can be facilitated with proper nutrition and access to school and, in so doing, “create the basis which allows them to be employable."
The new office of the Kingston and St. Andrew Public Assistance Department (PAD), which provides a range of social services to some 180,000 beneficiaries from approximately 48,000 PATH households, has been relocated to 108 Harbour Street, after outgrowing its previous location on the Air Jamaica building at 72 Harbour Street.
It was acquired and renovated at a cost of $15 million by the National Insurance Fund (NIF), which has rented the facility to the Ministry to house the PAD.
A sum of approximately U$80,000 was used to strengthen the Ministry’s institutional framework at the new office, which included the installation of networking capability, and furnishing for the office. The facility is staffed by approximately 40 employees.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter