The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force has proposed the implementation of several short- and medium-term social interventions to bolster initiatives administered by the Government, to cushion the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on individuals and entities.
The Committee, in its report, cited the need for the Government to maintain “active” collaboration with private-sector stakeholders and non-governmental organisations to undertake several engagements over the short term.
These include expanding the reach of safety nets through strengthened registration efforts; implementing the new social pension scheme announced by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, during the 2020/21 Budget Debate; providing accessible training and certification to assist the redeployment of displaced employees; and accelerating strategies for building resilience among small producers and entrepreneurs.
Among the medium-term recommendations is development of a comprehensive database of all families, through which State-sponsored social assistance can be administered to households in need during a crisis, and facilitating the administering of benefits in a structured manner at the local and national levels.
This database, the Committee emphasised, should be separate from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), because of its function, but should include all PATH families.
Additionally, the Task Force has recommended the expansion of avenues of attachment for social security, particularly within the formal economy; completing the examination of contributory unemployment insurance within the context of social security reform; addressing the comprehensive inclusion of persons with disabilities and the elderly; and ensuring a system of national identification and social registries.
The Task Force noted that the COVID-19 experience has underscored the critical role of social protection in all of its components. These include social assistance, social security and labour market dynamics.
In this regard, the members acknowledged the Government’s prompt response to the pandemic’s economic and social shocks through the ramping up of provisions under existing programmes, including PATH, and by rapidly creating initiatives to alleviate the experience for families and enterprises.
Key among these, the Committee pointed out, was the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme, administered by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
They described the CARE Programme as a “major initiative” that responded to meeting basic needs, as well as bolstering many individuals against the negative impacts of loss of employment.
The Task Force noted that while the role of social protection, as a stabiliser, has been underscored, as Jamaica’s economy is stimulated to recover, its contribution to spurring economic growth “will be evident”.
The Cabinet-approved 28-member multisectoral COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force was established to help chart Jamaica’s economic recovery from the fallout and devastation caused by COVID-19.
The Committee, which was announced in April by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, comprises representatives of the public and private sectors, and is chaired by Dr. Clarke.