JIS News

More than 20,000 persons have had their allowances suspended because of non-compliance with the requirements of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Senator Floyd Morris, State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security with special responsibility for the programme, told JIS News that the suspension was due to the beneficiaries’ reluctance to ensure that their children attended school and visited health centres regularly.
He explained that, “on the education side, we require that children attend school for over 85 per cent of the prescribed period of the school year and failure to do this will result in them being categorized as non-compliant and the payments will be suspended pending investigations.” Beneficiaries are also required to do regular medical checks at their nearest health clinic. Children up to six years are to visit the clinic six times per annum, while older beneficiaries are to have medical checks twice per year.
Senator Morris said that the Ministry was willing to resume payments once the beneficiaries started to fulfil their obligations under the programme but. “we make no bones about suspending the programme until they comply with the requirements.”
He noted that the PATH programme, as designed, “is teaching beneficiaries to be more responsible and to take charge of their own destiny as no longer can government throw the limited resources at the public like that without engaging them in some form of responsible action”.
He informed however, that the programme had an 88 per cent compliance rate, which was in line with similar poverty alleviation programmes around the world.
A total of 175,000 persons have applied to the social safety net programme since it was introduced in February 2002 and despite the high number of applicants, the figure is still short of the government’s target of 236,000 persons.
“The programme to date is not fully subscribed and it is because of a number of reasons. One is that we have to make sure that those who receive the benefit are the ones for which the programme is intended,” Senator Morris explained.
He pointed out that under the former Food Stamp Programme, several persons who received benefits were not in need. “There were people who owned big properties that were receiving the Food Stamp money and the government is making a conscious effort this time around to ensure that only the poor is receiving the PATH benefits,” he stated.

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