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Funding for the Government’s Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) has been significantly boosted by a US$2.49 million (J$215 million) grant from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF).
Approximately 10,000 of Jamaica’s population deemed poor, as well as the vulnerable elderly and disabled, who were not previously on the programme, will benefit from the provision, to be administered by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).
PATH aims to address the needs of individuals deemed the society’s most marginalised, including the poor, elderly and disabled, by providing benefits in the form of cash grants and other benefits.

Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles (left), greets Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi, during a grant agreement signing ceremony for US$2.49 million (J$215.2 million) from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) to the PATH Programme, at the Finance Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices, in Kingston, on July 9. Others (from second left) are: Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw and World Bank Special Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Badrul Haque.

Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, and World Bank Special Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Badrul Haque, signed agreements formalising the arrangements, at a ceremony held at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices, in Kingston, on July 9.
Mr. Shaw described the provision as “timely”, while alluding to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding’s announcement during his Budget presentation in April, of a special programme that would be undertaken through the enhancement of PATH, targeting 10,000 poor, elderly and disabled persons.
“This is the fulfillment of that announcement. The aim of the project is to address the problem of the exclusion of many poor, elderly and disabled persons, who have been affected by the global economic crisis. The project seeks to enhance the outreach capacity, therefore, of the entire PATH programme,” he informed.
The Minister explained that under the special programme, the grant provision will be used to provide cash transfers amounting to some US$2 million ($172.4 million) to persons within the target group meeting the PATH eligibility criteria. Additionally, he said focus would be placed on improving the Government’s capacity to “protect” the poor, disabled and elderly, with allocations of the grant funds to be earmarked for financing special interventions for the target group.

Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw (2nd left), receives a copy of an agreement for a US$2.49 million (J$215.2 million) grant from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), to the PATH Programme, from World Bank Special Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Badrul Haque, who co-signed, during a brief ceremony at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle offices in Kingston, on July 9. Looking on are: Minister of Labour and Social Security, who has portfolio responsibility for administering PATH, Hon. Pearnel Charles (left), and Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi.

These, the Minister outlined, will include: efforts at identifying such individuals; conducting house-to-house registration and on-the-spot verification of information gleaned to determine eligibility; as well as improving cash management in general activities. These activities are expected to include: training of social workers at the parish offices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which administers PATH; data entry and processing; and workshops for public education, and the mobilisation of civil society groups.
Further to these, Mr. Shaw advised that the grant will support incremental costs associated with PATH’s expansion, as well as an assessment of its effectiveness in addressing the needs of the target group.
Mr. Shaw pointed out that students in the programme along with regular beneficiaries had put the number of persons currently on the PATH programme at “well over” 400,000, adding that Jamaica’s social safety net is currently costing the Government “well over $4 billion per year to sustain.”
The Minister said the grant was welcomed. “I want to convey to the Japan Social Development Fund, the appreciation of the Government and people of Jamaica for this grant, along with the World Bank, who have always been supporters of the PATH programme,” Mr. Shaw said.
In his remarks, Dr. Haque noted that the multilateral institution is “pleased to be able to support the PATH programme to help more Jamaicans”. He pointed out that, beginning with the 1987 Survey of Living Conditions, the institution has long been associated with many of Jamaica’s evidence-based policies.
“The most famous of these is the PATH programme, and the World Bank is very proud to be associated with it from its inception in 2001. The PATH programme works, and works well, because it recognises that improved education, health and nutrition are strong foundations for personal and national development,” he said.
“It is these, a sound education, good health and balanced nutrition that can open the doors of opportunity for the poorest and most vulnerable among us. This is why PATH beneficiaries are encouraged to ensure that they and their children make use of health and education services in order to access the PATH benefits,” Dr. Haque added.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshai Yamaguchi, informed that since its inception in 2001, the Japan Social Development Fund has provided funding support to developing countries, “including middle-income nations like Jamaica.”
“Japan’s grant assistance is testament to the continued support of the Government and people of Japan to the Government and people of Jamaica,” he said.
Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, informed that the Ministry has recruited 100 social workers who have gone out into the field, where they have identified 17,000 poor, elderly and disabled persons who will be added to PATH.
He advised that while 10,000 of these will benefit under the JSDF-funded project, the remaining 7,000 and others to be identified and added to PATH, would be accommodated under the programme’s initial framework.