KINGSTON — Faced with the reality that Jamaica's ageing population, with some 280,000 Jamaicans now 60 years and over, the Government is intensifying efforts to ensure their active participation in society, as they search for opportunities to be more resourceful in a dynamic and changing world.
This message from Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, was communicated at Wednesday’s September 21 launch of Senior Citizen’s week, which is to be observed September 25 – October 1.
Citing a recent United Nations Report, the Minister observed that the world’s population was projected to exceed seven billion by October 31, as it heads toward 10 billion or more by the end of the century.
“With this, it means that Governments are expected to provide increased social safety protection,” he acknowledged.
Commending the National Council for Senior Citizens for the role it continues to play to “actively involve” seniors in cultural activities and economic enterprises, the Minister stated that the Government continues to examine ways to increase its intervention, including reforming the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to provide more meaningful benefits to seniors.
“We have lifted the NIS insurable wage ceiling to $1 million per annum. We have also moved to expand the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) to assist seniors to safeguard their well-being and quality of life,” he stated.
Echoing the Minister’s sentiments, State Minister with responsibility for Social Security, Hon Andrew Gallimore, said that senior citizens, having served and contributed to national development, are well positioned to nurture and guide future generations. He argued that senior citizens are not people to be trifled with.
“Every decision that you have made has made a difference to the development of the country, but you have a responsibility to ensure that the next generation does not make the mistakes of your generation, in preparing for the future,” he cautioned.
He charged senior citizens to mentor at least one youngster and, in so doing, contribute to the inculcation of the positive values and attitudes that nation-building demands.
Mr. Gallimore urged the National Council for Senior Citizens to intensify efforts to motivate senior citizens to utilise their skills and talents to produce to the standard, as reflected in the items of arts and craft on display at the Council’s West Kings House Road headquarters in Kingston.
Senior Citizens’ Week begins on Sunday September 25 with an Ecumenical and Thanksgiving Service at the Kingston Parish Church. Other activities include an awards ceremony, exhibition and sale of art, craft and culinary offerings, as well as a number of outreach activities.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter