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Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) continues to be regarded globally as one of the best social protection initiatives of its kind.

This, he said, is based on positive reviews of the programme by Jamaica’s international partners such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

“We have had visits to Jamaica from persons from other countries. Other Governments have sent their people here to come and observe and to learn from us (on) how we administer the PATH, so that they can replicate it in their own country,” he said.

“Something (good) has been seen by the World Bank, the IDB and others; and so they have given us very high marks for how we operate this programme. So, indeed PATH is doing something good…for the people of (this) country,” Mr. Kellier added.

He was speaking at Tuesday’s (March 19) formal handing over of two houses to PATH beneficiaries in Clarendon, which were constructed under the Ministry’s Social Housing Project.

Noting the approximately $4 billion allocated from the Consolidated Fund to administer PATH during the current fiscal year, the Minister said the majority of this sum was provided by the country’s taxpayers, supported by contributions from Jamaica’s multilateral partners. Against this background, he underscored the imperativeness of the administration accounting for all expenditure.

“There is…an evaluation that they (multilaterals) do from time to time to see exactly how the money is spent (and the results of) that will determine whether or not they are prepared to assist us going forward in keeping the programme on track,” he explained.

Mr. Kellier said the Ministry’s objective, under the programme, is to “move people from welfare to work”, because “PATH is not a destination…(it) is a rest stop along the way.”

“We expect that persons, who are able-bodied, will move from the welfare system into a working environment, so that they can become part of the productive enterprise of this country. What we do at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security is geared at lifting up people who are in poverty and moving them on to prosperity,” he stated.

Regarded as the government’s flagship social protection programme, PATH is a conditional cash transfer initiative aimed at delivering grants to the society’s most needy and vulnerable persons. Over 200,000 persons are registered under the programme.

The Social Housing Project is a joint initiative between the Ministry and charity organisation, Food for the Poor, which aims to provide some 48 houses to PATH beneficiaries at a cost of $20 million, under a pilot slated for completion in May.

The project is being facilitated under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both entities, and saw the first two houses being handed over to the beneficiaries in Cornpiece District, Hayes, and Rocky Point, Clarendon, on Tuesday.

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter