PM says NIDS will help identify elderly in needSaturday, July 31, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the proposed national identification system (NIDS) will help to identify the nation's elderly population who should benefit from the social pension programme.
“The NIDS will be the basis on which programmes like this will work by ensuring that the benefit gets to the identified beneficiary. It [NIDS] is on its way and we will be able to identify and track all our seniors and provide them with this social safety net guaranteed income benefit,” Holness told the virtual launch of the social pension programme yesterday.
NIDS, which is still before Parliament, will help with the Government's push for a digital society.
Holness, who yesterday made a comparison between the operation of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the social pension programme, said NIDS will ensure more efficiency for the new initiative.
“When you are on the PATH programme, ever so often you could be revised off the list, and so the beneficiary list changes over time. With this new system, once you are properly identified, your status would be updated by virtue of the requirements of NIDS,” he explained.
“We would eventually know when you pass on. You have a better guarantee for a long-term provision of the service without interruption. That is the benefit of having a formal, orderly, structured society,” he added.
The social pension programme was implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, where seniors 75 years and older will receive a cash grant of $3,400 per month. It is a non-contributory scheme, which means that no former contribution is required.
Only seniors who are not receiving benefits from programmes such as poor relief or the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), do not reside in a government care facility, and are not currently in receipt of pension and disability benefits, will qualify for the programme.
“There are many elderly persons in dire need of financial support, especially those who fall through the gaps for qualifying into existing welfare programmes. Many Jamaicans, in fact, fear the financial vulnerability of old age. Some of them have no family, savings, and investments, and there is no guarantee of community support,” said Holness. Qualifying Jamaicans on the PATH programme, who have reached age 75, will be transitioned to the new social pension programme, said the prime minister.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda said, while more than 2,000 seniors have received payments this month, he is hoping that there will be an increase in the number of beneficiaries.
“Next month we are hoping that will increase to about 8,000 to 10,000, and continue to expand so that we will have that mass reach. We are expecting that early next year, we will have cleaned up the PATH list, so that we know how many recipients are there and project the funding necessary and then establish even better programmes that will reach out to the poor and needy,” he said.
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