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The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is moving to reduce the turnaround time for the processing of applications for beneficiaries under the Programme for Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).
Senator Floyd Morris, State Minister in the Ministry, has said that the time taken to process applications was one of the major challenges facing the programme. “We find that unacceptable in the Ministry,” he stated in the Senate this morning (March 9).
He noted that the Ministry was moving to address the situation by “putting in place a mechanism that the data entry of applications takes place at the parish level rather than having to send in all the forms to head office to be processed.” He said it was expected that the change in the processing system would contribute to a significant reduction in the time taken to process the applications.
Meanwhile, Senator Morris noted that non-compliance with the stipulations of the programme remained a problematic issue. To continue to receive assistance, children of beneficiary families must attend school regularly and also do regular health checks.
“Beneficiaries have to understand they are in a contractual relationship where the PATH programme is concerned and they have to honour their end of the bargain.it can’t be that the government is expending millions of dollars and the necessary criteria for the continuation is not being adhered to,” he stated.
The PATH Programme is a joint collaboration between the government of Jamaica and the World Bank, and is an amalgamation of three former government projects – the Food Stamp Programme, Old Age and Incapacity Benefit, and the Outdoor Poor Relief.
It is designed to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty by building human capital among vulnerable groups such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, children up to 17 years, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
Since the programme’s inception three years ago, some 195,000 vulnerable Jamaicans have benefited from cash grants. The amount dispensed was initially $400 per person, but this was increased to $530 last month.
Senator Morris told the chamber, that the government’s social safety net initiatives such as the Social and Economic Support Programme (SESP), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) and the National Health Fund (NHF), have all had significant impact by helping to improve the condition of vulnerable Jamaicans.