- The document will guide the ongoing focus on reform of the social safety net process.
- Special consideration was given to providing a safety net for persons with disabilities
- The Government has received great technical support from the IDB
The Government is currently drafting a Social Protection Strategy document which, when completed, will guide the ongoing focus on reform of the social safety net process.
This was disclosed by Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, when he addressed a Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) national stakeholder consultation, held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on July 30.
Mr. Kellier noted that the Social Safety Net Reform Programme, which was initiated in 2000, saw concerted efforts being made by the Government to effect a stronger and more co-ordinated package of services for the most vulnerable households.
“This sought to create new efficiencies in the use of resources, promote objectivity and equity in the distribution of benefits, create more meaningful benefit regimes, and improve institutional arrangements,” he stated.
He added that special consideration was given to providing a safety net for persons with disabilities.
This, he said, involved seeking technical and financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to carry out the necessary reform activity that resulted in the merging, restructuring and improvement in the targeting of the country’s three main social safety net programmes – Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), the contributory National Insurance Scheme, and the non-contributory Public Assistance Programme.
“The most significant upshot of these reforms has been the creation of a consolidated conditional cash transfer programme, which has seen improved overall levels of benefits for the poor, including provision for 19,000 persons with disabilities,” Mr. Kellier said.
He informed that to date, some 16,959 persons with disabilities in Jamaica are receiving benefits under PATH. However, he noted that despite the foregoing, problems persist having to do with targeting and identifying beneficiaries.
“In any event, PATH is not specifically earmarked for selecting persons with disabilities. It is essentially designed to select households that are poor,” Mr. Kellier said.
“As such, it is my hope that this national stakeholder consultation will focus attention on the persistence of this problem, among others; for there is an urgent need to find a better system to identify, profile and track persons with disabilities,” he added.
The Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, has received great technical support from the IDB.
This has been utilised to advance the social safety net reforms necessary to improve the well-being of persons with disabilities and strengthen the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities to carry out its mandate.
Under the theme, ‘Institutional Development’, the consultations will include a critical look at: the roles and functions of the JCPD; developing and prioritising strategies, identifying core purposes, assessing current competencies and outputs, and analysing projected future demands.
The national stakeholder consultations will continue on Wednesday July 31 and also from August 7 to 9, at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge.