The programme of assistance to Persons with Disabilities (PWD), administered through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), has been boosted by a US$572,000 ($49 million) grant from the Japanese government through the Japan Special Fund (JSF).
The funds, secured by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will finance the administration’s “Support to Improving the Lives of Persons” initiative, with the government providing counterpart funding of US$160,800 ($13.8 million).
Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, IDB Caribbean Country Manager, Gerard Johnson, and Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi, signed copies of the Letter of Agreement for the IDB Non-reimbursable Technical Cooperation at a brief ceremony at the Ministry, National Heroes Circle, Kingston, on Friday (September 17). This agreement formalised arrangements for disbursement of the funds to execute the project over the next 30 months,
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw (second left), and the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Gerard Johnson (right), sign copies of the IDB’s US$572,000 ($49 million) Technical Cooperation funding agreement for the Government’s ‘Support to Improving the Lives of Persons with Disabilities’ project, during a brief ceremony at the Ministry, National Heroes Circle, Kingston on Friday (September 17). Looking on are: Minister of State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore (left),and Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi.
Mr. Shaw explained that the provisions will assist in improving the Ministry’s framework, and capacity to advance social protection policies that will impact the welfare of persons with disabilities.
He pointed out that this will facilitate upgrading of the existing database system for more accurate defining and profiling of the disabled, which currently account for approximately 10 per cent of the population.
“For too long, we have had a kind of hit and miss approach to how we deal with persons with disabilities. (Hence) the grant funds will assist the government in embarking on a country-wide registration programme of disabled persons,” Mr. Shaw said.
He explained that this is in keeping with the country’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires the registration of every disabled person, to determine their qualitative and quantitative needs.
Minister of Finance and Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw (left), and the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Gerard Johnson (right), shake hands after signing copies of the IDB’s US$572,000 ($49 million) Technical Cooperation funding agreement for the Government’s ‘Support to Improving the Lives of Persons with Disabilities’ project, during a brief ceremony at the Ministry, National Heroes Circle, Kingston on Friday (September 17). Looking on is Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi.
Mr. Shaw said the project will also entail: a public education and promotion programme; improving the targeting of persons with disabilities; institutional strengthening; and strengthening of the early stimulation programme for children with disabilities.
Mr. Johnson highlighted the input of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in the project’s design, adding that once a steering committee is established, execution of initiative could be undertaken. Additionally, he advised that all expenses incurred for activities undertaken on behalf of PWDs, since December 2009, will be reimbursed.
He also assured that additional assistance would be provided, if more activities that need funding in order to expand the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), or whatever mechanism is used to reach people with disabilities, are identified.
Ambassador Yamaguchi said that the initiative will be executed through the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD). He stressed that no country could successfully undertake national development without investing heavily in its people, “including the vulnerables”.
“It is expected that the five components of this programme will bring successful results, and that the Jamaican authorities will utilize these resources to aid in poverty reduction, as well as to develop components and projects,” Mr. Yamaguchi said.
Expressing gratitude for the funding facility, Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, pointed out that there is “tremendous work” left to be done in ensuring that persons with disabilities are treated like all other citizens, to assist them to realize their full potential as citizens.
“They have a meaningful contribution to make and, to date, we have fallen far short of where we would want to be in developing that human capital to its full potential, and reaping the benefits that can flow,” Mr. Gallimore said.
He added that, if Jamaica is to become a first world country by 2030, it is not going to be possible without giving needed attention to persons with disabilities.