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Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has said that the Government will be strengthening the social safety net progamme this fiscal year, as part of measures to help Jamaicans cushion the worst effects of the harsh financial constraints.
“We do recognise that in times that are as harsh and as challenging as this one, that there are persons, who may not normally have been in need of Government intervention, and who are now going to be in need,” Mr. Golding said at the April 8 post Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House.
He noted that the last Survey of Living Conditions indicated that the poverty level was at 14 per cent, “but based on the studies we have done over a number of years there is a margin of about seven per cent of the population that fluctuates. Depending on what is happening in the economy, they are above (or below) the poverty line.”
“We have to be very sensitive to the fact that there are persons, who may not be defined in the classical conventional sense of being poor, but they are near poor, and when you are near poor in times like these, you become poor, even if only temporarily so. During that temporariness, they need some intervention,” the Prime Minister stated.
In the 2009/10 Estimates of Expenditure now before the House of Representatives a total of $3 billion has been allocated to social welfare services, including education, health and employment benefits under the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Mr. Golding informed that additional information on the social safety net will be outlined when the Budget Debate begins.
On Thursday, April 23, Finance and Planning Minister Audley Shaw, will open the 2009/10 Budget Debate. The Prime Minister is slated to make his presentation on Tuesday, May 5, while the Finance Minister will close the Debate on Wednesday, May 6.

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