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Ministerials Paragraphs Related to the Theme Paragraphs VII Summit
Reports
Date:  3/21/2012 
3. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Poverty
Several of the programmes that came under the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NPEP) of 1996 outlived the project life span, and have continued. These include rural electrification, micro credit and some community infrastructure programmes. The majority of the latter has been effected through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, which has extensive external financing. Programmes such as Poor Relief have also continued to serve the registered poor through the delivery of cash and in-kind benefits.
However, the thrust in poverty eradication has since the initiation of the Social Safety Net Reform Programme in 2000, focused largely on human capital formation through the cash transfer and school feeding programmes, which each currently serve over 390 000 individuals. The Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) has continued to provide cash benefits to eligible families, with over eighty per cent of beneficiaries being children and elderly persons from identified households. The programme pays monthly benefits in two categories – health and education- and in 2008 introduced differentiated education benefits to support grade retention and male inclusion. In 2010 an unconditional portion of the benefit was accorded to child beneficiaries as a social protection ‘floor’, particularly in response to the deepening economic crises impacting the global situation. The programme also offers a limited tertiary grant for students successfully matriculating beyond the secondary level.
A welfare-to-work initiative has also been piloted in several parishes, as a supporting programme for poor households. This Steps-to-Work programme is intended to assist working-age adults in these households to be able to seek and retain employment. The aim is to further support the fight against inter-generational transmission of poverty. The interventions include remedial education, skill certification, business development and microfinance, and to date there have been over 4 000 clients served. Both programmes are implemented through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, with loan and technical support from the World Bank and the IDB.
A Beneficiary Identification System (BIS) was developed in 2002 and revised in 2011, by the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The BIS has improved the process of selection of clients for social assistance by instituting a proxy means test that identifies characteristics of needy households. The BIS is currently being used by the PATH, with consideration for its additional use in other social support programmes. It has reduced subjectivity and improved targeting.
The School Feeding Programme, has continued to function in Government schools, with special budgetary provision being awarded for students on PATH over the past three school years. This programme provides either cash subsidies or actual food products to schools to assist them in providing meals; the two components of the programme are Cooked Meals or Nutribun and Milk. Government, in acknowledging the critical importance of nutrition to cognition and learning, has also moved to support feeding programmes at the pre-primary level, and to articulate a nutrition policy for the younger children. At the national level, the development of a Food and Nutrition Security Policy is also being spearheaded through the Ministry of Agriculture.
Within the Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan there is a detailed sector plan for Poverty Reduction. In the main, this Plan calls for a multi-pronged approach, with emphasis on building the assets of the poor. The PIOJ is currently leading the thrust for a structured and coordinated poverty framework, to support and monitor the progress of the poverty programmes.
Poverty prevalence rates, which had been trending downward over the decade, have seen a swing upwards since the 2007 estimates. Much of this has been ascribed to the income impacts caused by the global economic crises. Poverty according to the 2009 JSLC stands at 16.5 per cent, moving from a low of 9.9 per cent in 2007. Over the decade, the inequality index has moved from 0.379 in 2000 to 0.3667 in 2009, indicating some improvement in this measure. The prevalence data, recorded in the annual Surveys of Living Conditions, indicate that the Rural Areas is the leading region, well above the national average, with slower rates of change.

Social Protection
Alongside new initiatives with respect to safety nets have been efforts to address other aspects of social protection. Major social security programmes were instituted during the decade, including the National Health Fund, the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme, and initiatives aligned to the contributory National Insurance Scheme, such as the NI Gold health insurance. Over the period, Government has also sought to increase the value of NIS pensions to retirees. A major project to address reforms to the public service pension system, which lacks viability, is being supported through the World Bank-funded Social Protection Project (2008-2013).
One of the 32 sector plans within the Vision 2030 Jamaica also deals with Social Insurance and Pensions. The main thrusts in the medium term include improved coverage, viability of pension funds, and enhanced private sector participation in the delivery of social security options.
The Government has been implementing a five-year (2009-2013) Social Protection Project, supported by a World Bank loan. The major components involve further development of PATH, improved administration of public service pensions and development of a comprehensive social protection strategy. All of this is in keeping with the goals of the Vision 2030 Jamaica, for effective social protection, greater coverage and efficient service delivery. The IDB has also supported the agenda for social protection through several studies and grant programmes, particularly in the area of under-served vulnerable groups and school feeding.
Paragraphs: 4, 8, 9, 10 Paragraphs VII Summit: -

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