JIS News

Labour and Social Security Minister, Horace Dalley has said the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) was fulfilling its objective of reaching the poor and most vulnerable groups in the society.
“This is evidenced by the result of an impact assessment, which has shown that PATH is the best targeted social assistance programme that has been implemented in the country, when compared with previous and existing programmes,” he said.
Making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House yesterday (May 17), the Minister pointed out that since its inception in March, 2002, as part of the Social Safety Net Reform, approximately 180,000 persons have benefited from the PATH programme at a cost of $1.88 billion.
“In the financial year 2004/05, direct benefits accounted for 90 per cent of expenditure and administrative costs the remaining 10 per cent. This represents a significant gain in administrative efficiency when compared with the ratio of direct benefits to total expenditure under the major income support programmes (Food Stamp, Old age and Incapacity Allowance, Outdoor Poor Relief), before reform,” he said.
Mr. Dalley noted that the achievement of the PATH programme was supported by the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions for 2004. “The Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions for 2004 indicates that the incidence of poverty declined to 16.1 per cent as compared with 19.7 per cent in 2003,” he said.
The Minister said that PATH has also been making strides in respect of its human capital investment approach. “For example, immunization rates have significantly increased for children in the programme and some schools have reported increased attendance as a consequence of the implementation of PATH.”
“A total of 106 schools with PATH beneficiary students were selected islandwide, and school attendance compared for specific periods for 2003 and 2004. The results indicated that school attendance increased at 85 per cent of the schools for the review periods,” he added.
Mr. Dalley said many beneficiary families have also reported that they were now better able to manage their financial affairs because of the grants received under the programme.
The Minister informed that priorities for 2005/06 would include the completion of consultations on the draft Bill for the National Assistance Act, and passage of the legislation, which is aimed at consolidating the institutional framework required for the long term success of the social safety reform.
“Emphasis will also be placed on recertification to ensure that persons whose socio-economic conditions have improved are weaned from the programme,” he said.

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