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The Government has increased by 22.37 per cent, the funds allocated to assist the country’s most vulnerable citizens, in demonstration of its commitment to protecting this group.

Making the revelation in her contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate in Gordon House on April 30, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller informed that$3.1 billion was allocated for social protection in the budget last year, while just over $4 billion was provided this year.

“Protecting the most vulnerable among us – the poor, our children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities – is our central concern, as we go for growth and development and seek to unleash our full potential,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister stressed that despite the severe economic challenges facing the country, the Government has managed to “provide real, rather than nominal increases, for some important areas.”

Among these, she said, are: grants to children’s education, which moved from $1.9 billion to $2.5 billion; grants to children’s health, which moved from $435 million in 2012/13 to $465 million in this fiscal year; and grants to adults over 65 years, up from $538 million to $758 million.

“We will never be able to build a quality economy if we cannot build a quality society. Simply put, you cannot balance the Budget if you do not balance people’s lives,” the Prime Minister said.

Mrs. Simpson Miller delivered her presentation under the theme: ‘Jamaica: Going for Growth and Development – Unleashing Our Potential’.

By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter