- Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Derrick Kellier, says there is need to revise the eligibility requirements for PATH.
- This, he says, is necessary to ensure the programme achieves its mandate to deliver social benefits to the society’s most needy and vulnerable.
- A recent World Bank-commissioned survey revealed that there are approximately 11,000 persons who are eligible, but are not receiving benefits because of the high benchmarks.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon Derrick Kellier, says there is need to revise the eligibility requirements for the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), to facilitate those in genuine need who do not qualify under the present regime.
This, he says, is necessary to ensure the programme achieves its mandate to deliver social benefits to the society’s most needy and vulnerable.
Minister Kellier was speaking at the 55th annual conference of Jamaica District of the Association of Methodist Men’s Fellowship, held on July 20 at the St. John’s Methodist Church in Montego Bay.
He explained that to qualify for PATH, applicants must demonstrate that he/she is from a needy family. This is done through the application of a means test, where applicants are asked to provide personal data pertaining to their family, including levels of education attained, as well as access to basic social amenities.
The information provided is later verified by home visits, after which qualified applicants are registered to begin receiving benefits.
Minister Kellier noted, however, that the benchmarks may have been set too high as PATH inspectors have found cases where applicants are in possession of four-burner gas stoves, refrigerators, and even flat screen television sets. He said, in many cases, such trappings are gifts from relatives overseas and did not negate the applicant’s need for assistance.
He said a recent World Bank-commissioned survey revealed that there are approximately 11,000 persons who are eligible, but are not receiving benefits because of the high benchmarks.
In January of this year, the institution’s Board of Directors approved an additional US$40 million loan to strengthen PATH and expand its reach to 500,000 beneficiaries.
Conversely, Minister Kellier stated that there are others who continue to receive benefits even after their circumstances have improved. The list of beneficiaries, he said, is currently under revision in order to weed out undeserving beneficiaries.
As at June 2014, PATH cash grants have been provided to approximately 370,000 registered beneficiaries.
Minister Kellier encouraged church leaders to make use of the PATH Parish Appeals Tribunal on behalf of their worthy parishioners, whose applications for benefits may have been denied.
He also urged them to play a more “forceful role” in nation building and partner with Government in the delivery of assistance and interventions to the society’s vulnerable groups in mainly the youth, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens.
Minister Kellier further called on the church to encourage Jamaicans to prepare for their future by contributing to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and ensuring that employers remit their contributions to the scheme.