PATH benefits to jump
Nearly 300,000 vulnerable persons, including children and the elderly, are to see an average 16 per cent increase in their cash grants under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), starting June 1.
Further, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke announced yesterday that an additional $347 million has been allocated in the Budget for the upcoming fiscal year to facilitate the expansion of the School Feeding Programme for PATH beneficiaries at the early childhood level.
Clarke revealed, too, that $380 million has been made available to the education ministry to provide a transportation grant for students on the programme.
“These budgetary allocations to expand PATH school feeding, to expand PATH examination assistance, to expand PATH transportation, in addition to the average 16 per cent increase to PATH cash grants, represent protection of the vulnerable in action,” the finance minister said as he opened the 2019 Budget debate in the House of Representatives.
Approximately $8.3 billion has been allocated to PATH to facilitate the payment of cash grants, including increases that will range from 14 to 23 per cent.
“This is evidence of our commitment to the protection of the vulnerable,” he said, pointing out that since the Holness administration took office, individual cash grants under PATH have gone up by between 45 and 55 per cent.
Clarke said under the Examination Fees Assistance Programme, $200 million has been allocated to the Ministry of Education to support payments for four additional subjects for secondary students on PATH who are sitting Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams.
In addition, he announced that the Government plans to retain the PATH back-to-school grant, first introduced last August, through a $562-million allocation in the 2019-2020 Budget. Clarke said this arrangement would be institutionalised under PATH and paid once a year.
However, he cautioned that the Government would be adopting a more strategic approach to social protection and poverty reduction in Jamaica.
“A strategic medium- to long-term focus will include a comprehensive public expenditure review of existing interventions to analyse targeting graduation rates, efficiency, and adequate funding for key interventions,” the finance minister said.
“The public expenditure review will allow for better targeting, better outcomes, reduce non-compliance, and better deployment of case workers to ensure conditionalities are met,” he explained.