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KINGSTON — The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) continues to meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable, approving a record 166 sub-projects during the last financial year at a cost of some $1.26 billion.

Outgoing Acting Chairman, Patricia Sutherland, made the disclosure at the agency’s 15th Annual General Meeting held on October 5th at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

She said the number of projects approved was the highest for any one year since JSIF's inception in 1996 and was 21 per cent more than the 137 approved for the previous period.

She informed that 61 sub-projects were completed during the review period, to include the rehabilitation of health centres, rural feeder roads, basic, primary and all-age schools, and the upgrading of public sanitation and water supply systems.

A total of 44,907 persons benefited from the work done, she said, with the parishes of St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. Andrew, cumulatively accounting for 41 per cent of all completed projects.

“Despite the challenges, the organisation continues to produce commendable outputs,” she stated.

JSIF was allocated a budget of $1.66 billion in 2010/11 with $1.33 billion going towards sub-project expenditure and $329 million for institutional support, resulting in an administration to sub-project cost ratio of 19: 81.

“This means that for every $1 spent by JSIF, 81 cents goes directly to the vulnerable and underserved in this country through the projects implemented, and 19 cents are used for administration,” Ms. Sutherland stated.

Turning to other achievements during the financial year, Ms. Sutherland said JSIF sought to improve the flow of communication with stakeholders and revise the targeting strategy “to enable a better balance with the demand-driven approach."

The improvements, she said, came out of an operational review, which revealed that delays in the procurement process, coupled with the overwhelming demand for assistance by communities, accounted for the widespread perception of the organisation as being “slow to respond”.

JSIF Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, in her remarks, said that there continues to be overwhelming demand for the community development support provided by the agency, with more than 700 new applications or requests for funding received by the agency for financial year 2010/2011.

She said the applications represent a 137 per cent increase over the previous financial year.

"We are mindful that our ability to continuously meet the needs of underserved communities is integrally connected to the hard work and dedication of the management, board and staff of the JSIF, the co-operation of the beneficiary communities and the support from our many partners and stakeholders. We fully acknowledge that while much has been accomplished, much more needs to be done,” Ms. Gillings noted.

JSIF is a limited liability company incorporated under the Company’s Act of Jamaica. It was established as a component of the Government of Jamaica’s national poverty alleviation strategy.

The Fund was designed primarily to channel resources to small-scale community-based socio-economic infrastructure and social services projects.

 

By Alecia Smith, JIS Reporter