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The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) on Thursday (March 18), through a web forum, presented findings from an in-depth analysis of Jamaica’s socio-financial construct and welfare programmes and provide a critical assessment of the various components of an effective social safety net that can benefit those most vulnerable within the population. Ramification from the current COVID-19 virus has seen an average 49% loss of income among the poorer Jamaican households. This resulting in the continued increase in the number of persons vulnerable to poverty in Jamaica, feeding into the diminishing resilience to shock-factors such as natural disasters and geological events, illness, and economic crises.

Over the past seven years, Jamaica has performed remarkably well in establishing the markers of economic growth. The government was able to increase its expenditure without risking debt sustainability with more investment in various sectors such as security, transport, health, and education.
However, no amount of economic growth guarantees equity in the distribution of economic gains. The prevalence of poverty in Jamaica, over a ten-year period (2008 to 2017 inclusive), has increased, inferring that the poorest and most vulnerable people are not being adequately supported, or are not benefitting from national growth.

Similarly, the vulnerability of citizens, and the number of persons vulnerable to poverty, have also increased in Jamaica.

At the web forum, “Come Mek Wi Hol Yuh Han: The Components of an Effective Social Safety”, Ms. Monique Graham, Lead Researcher at CAPRI, examined the current social protection system in Jamaica, shed light on effective and efficient social protection policies, both locally and in other jurisdictions, and proposed suitable revised architectural reform, geared towards the establishment of a more equitable social protection system that promotes inclusion and reduces vulnerability of Jamaicans. The virtual launch event allowed for discussions based on evidence among key stakeholders and allowed for public participation through the application.

The event was streamed live on CAPRI’s website and YouTube channel and moderated by Dr Damien King, Executive Director at CAPRI.

The panelists included:
• Ms. Monique Graham – Lead Researcher, CAPRI
• Dr Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa — Kenan Eminent Professor, Public Policy at the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina
• Mrs. Audrey Deer-Williams — Chief Technical Director, Ministry of Labour and Social Security