Shaw announces that PATH benefits will be increased
Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter
The Government will be broadening the coverage and increasing the levels of social assistance provided to poor and vulnerable Jamaicans under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Finance Minister Audley Shaw made the announcement during a statement to the House of Representatives this afternoon but did not give a timeline.
The announcement follows a warning from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in documents released yesterday that poor Jamaicans need support to cushion the fallout from the income tax break.
PATH is the largest welfare programme covering almost 400,000 Jamaicans.
The IMF said the strengthening and widening of the coverage under PATH is urgent, particularly amid the ongoing tax reform to rebalance from direct to indirect taxes.
Shaw told the House that the Government is conscious of the need to ensure that the adjustment programme does not affect the poor.
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips, said the action of the government shows that the pressure on the most vulnerable in the population is extreme.
He argued that the pressure stemmed from financing the $1.5 million tax break.
The Government had imposed $1.35 billion in taxes to fund the implementation of the first phase of the tax break of $1 million dollars.