As Jamaica strives to strengthen its social safety net, the Registrar General's Department (RGD) continues to play a vital role in this thrust, by providing civil registration documents to vulnerable households, through several birth registration initiatives islandwide.
One of the initiatives is the PATH Beneficiary Identification System, an agreement between the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) and the RGD, geared at providing additional social support to members of PATH households.
Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the RGD, Kerry-Ann Crossbourne, says that under the project, the RGD has identified over 20,000 individuals who need to access PATH benefits, but cannot do so, because they do not have proper documentation.
“So far, the RGD has successfully staged 51 civil registration fairs islandwide, and has provided numerous birth certificates to beneficiaries, enabling easier access to PATH benefits,” she informs.
From the fairs, she says that the RGD has collected 2,687 applications with only 72 per cent meeting the requirements. The remaining 28 per cent of applications are to be queried, based on the information provided.
Ms. Crossbourne informs that in some instances, applicants do not provide sufficient information; while in other cases, the information provided requires additional clarification before birth certificates are issued.
"Oftentimes, persons provide us with their (alias) names, and after a thorough research, the actual birth record is sometimes recovered, bearing the original name which they were registered with at birth," she explains.
She is urging PATH beneficiaries to endorse the civil registration fairs to reap the social benefits available, and also to comply with the application requirements, by providing the correct information to the RGD.
Miss Crossbourne is advising non beneficiaries who have not yet obtained a birth certificate, and wants to be a part of the initiative, to provide the RGD with supporting documents, such as immunization cards, and certificates of registration, to speed up the process.
"This applies mainly to children, because these documents already have the correct spelling of names, which enables us to process the applications in a timely manner,” she says.
Considering that many persons are unable to access benefits because of improper documentation, the RGD and the MLSS are currently revising the strategies being employed regarding the provision of birth certificates.
"We are in dialogue with the Ministry and as the issues arise, we communicate directly with the various PATH representatives, and they conduct their independent investigations. The application process requires the Ministry to interact with the beneficiaries before they attend the fairs, so they are fully prepared,” Miss Crossbourne explains.
She tells JIS News that in order for the RGD to process an application, the applicant’s birth entry number, name and place of birth are required, and if that information is not provided at the time the application is made, then the process will be delayed.
The Deputy CEO says that not having legal proof of one’s identity affects a number of rights for many Jamaicans, and that the RGD will continue to support the Ministry, to ensure that current and prospective PATH beneficiaries capitalise on the opportunities that are available under the programme.
Miss Crossbourne points out that the initiative is in line with Vision 2030, which is to make Jamaica, "the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
“The PATH Beneficiary System, which was implemented to assist the country’s most vulnerable, is vital because it helps to alleviate the cycle of poverty and contribute to nation building,” she says.
Other birth registration initiatives embarked on by the RGD include: the Free First Birth Certificate Programme, in partnership with the Child Development Agency (CDA), the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The RGD is the only organisation in Jamaica which is responsible for registering the vital events of births, fetal deaths, marriages and deaths.
ByJeneva Gordon, JIS PRO