Sun | Aug 20, 2017

No PATH increase before April 2017

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2016 | 11:11 AM

The Government's Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies document is indicating that benefits under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) will not be increased before next April.

This could be a setback for the 350,000 beneficiaries who have been expecting an increase especially in light of the higher taxes on things such as gas.

In the document, the Andrew Holness administration said poverty is a critical problem that "needs immediate attention".

As a result, it said there will be a "significant increase" in the PATH benefits for the 2017/2018 National Budget which under fiscal rules must be passed by April 1 next year.

The Government said it will also expand the PATH School Feeding Programme to five days.

Twenty per cent of Jamaica's population or approximately 550,000 people are said to be living in poverty.

The IMF and the Opposition People's National Party have been urging the Government to expand coverage under social safety net programmes such as PATH to cushion the effects of tax policy changes on the poor and vulnerable.

PATH benefits range from $1,190 to $1,725 monthly and are paid to pregnant and lactating mothers, children, the elderly without pensions, and disabled adults.