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JIS News

The deadline for the addition of approximately 115,000 persons to the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), has been extended to March 2009.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, said that the extension will facilitate the inclusion of the requisite number of people to the programme.
“I was given a deadline date by the Prime Minister and we have not been able to satisfy the quantity. That’s because we have not found all the persons who are to be on the programme. We are pushing it to March to see if we can get all those people,” he told JIS News.
Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, in his contribution to the Budget Debate in April, stated the Government’s intention to increase the scope of PATH, to include all persons under the established poverty line. The exercise should have been completed by October 2008.
According to statistics from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) at the time, approximately 360,000 Jamaicans are under the poverty line and only 245,000 are benefitting from the PATH programme. This means that there are some 115,000 poor persons, who should be receiving assistance.
Minister Charles explained that although the PIOJ had identified the 115,000 additional persons who are deemed vulnerable, PATH is not for everyone.
“Not every poor person qualifies for PATH because there is an age variation, which is from 0-20 years. However, if you are over that, you have to be unemployed, unemployable or elderly etc.”, he informed.
He indicated that the Ministry has a programme in place, Step to Work, to assist those who are not eligible for PATH.
“A strong man, who is 26 for example, cannot be a beneficiary of the PATH programme, but we have a programme that will help [him and people like him]. There is the Ministry’s Step to Work Programme that will help them create a pathway… so we send some back to school and help others develop small businesses,” he outlined.
PATH is a programme funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank, which is aimed at delivering benefits by way of cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society.
The purpose of the programme is to rationalise the operations of existing income transfer programmes in order to eliminate duplication, reduce administrative costs, streamline the use of resources, and increase the effectiveness of service delivery to the poor.