IDB grants J$92 million for social programs

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The government has received J$92 million in grant funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to be used for strengthening social intervention initiatives.

Of the sum, J$38.7 million (US$450,000) will be used to modernize the School Feeding Program. In addition, J$53.3 million (US$620,000) will be utilized for a technical co-operation agreement, which will assist the government in enhancing social spending and contribute to policy and institutional reforms.

The components of the cooperation agreement will be carried out under a program entitled “Understanding the Social Effects of the Financial Crisis”.

The support for school feeding is being provided from the Japan Special Fund, through the IDB.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, welcomed the support, saying that it would boost the government’s efforts to expand the program to students, who do not benefit from the Program for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

“The Government of Jamaica has placed considerable importance and premium on the nutritional side of our public education system and we made the decision last year to significantly expand the school feeding program with another $1 billion…to include students that do not fall under the PATH program,” said Shaw.

Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Hiroshai Yamaguchi, said the funding for the School Feeding Program was indicative of Japan’s commitment to supporting Jamaican youth.

Yamaguchi said that the support will help improve school attendance and “bring great results to Jamaica’s future leaders.”

Shaw said the funding provided for the strengthening of the government’s capacity to provide social assistance is “very timely”.

“It is aimed at improving the assessment of the impact of the financial crisis on vulnerable groups and this will include identifying various policy options to increase the productivity of firms in the informal sector, to assess the impact of the downturn in remittances on the economy, and to improve the effectiveness of social spending,” said Shaw.

IDB Country Representative to Jamaica, Gerard Johnson, said the program is in line with the government’s decision to protect spending on health, education and the social safety net initiatives.

The program will be implemented through the IDB’s Social Protection and Health Division, in partnership with the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

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