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Senior Director of Social Security in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Faith Innerarity said the government was moving to pass legislation governing its Social Safety Net programme by the end of the current legislative year.
She was speaking at a press conference held on July 5 at the Grenada Way offices of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), to provide an update on the programme, which was introduced some five years ago, to bring under one umbrella, all assistance initiatives for the poor and vulnerable.
They include the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme (JADEP); Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH); School Feeding Programme; Secondary School Fee Assistance Programme (SSFAP); Social and Economic Support Programme (SESP); assistance to infirmaries; public assistance; National Insurance Scheme (NIS) including NI Gold and health fee waiver.
Director General of the PIOJ, Dr. Wesley Hughes, said the SSN reform process, which began in earnest in 2000, must be seen as a segment of the on-going public sector modernization.
“The Jamaican government has recognized the need to pull resources together for greater efficiency and impact, and to create an integrated network of services that can offer the best social protection for needy families,” he pointed out. Administrative efficiencies, he said would be improved as well as clients access to the system and levels of benefits.
The reform of the Safety Net, Dr. Hughes said, promoted greater efficiency and effectiveness. He said the hallmarks of the reformed Safety net included increased transparency and equity in the treatment of applicants; accountability in the distribution of benefits; and counselling and guidance towards personal development.
“We envisage a day when people will not just enter the welfare system and remain in perpetuity until death, but it should be seen as a transition to work or a temporary respite,” he said.