PNP rejects idea for politicians to select PATH beneficiaries

By Nakinske Robinson    
The opposition People's National Party is rejecting a recommendation for political representatives to play a role in selecting beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education.
This comes after Social Security Minister Pearnel Charles Jr. said the suggestion would be taken into consideration.
The idea was pitched by Junior Gayle, PNP councillor-caretaker for the Independence City division during the Portmore leg of the Ministry of Labour & Social Security's PATH Townhall last Wednesday, in St. Catherine
In response, Social Security Minister Pearnel Charles Jr. welcomed the proposal as aspects of the state welfare programme are now under review.
The Minister cautioned, however, that the move would spark public concerns about potentially politicising PATH, adding that any decision taken would prioritise the programme's objectivity and integrity.
But PNP Spokesperson on Social Transformation and Social Protection, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, says the country cannot afford the risk of political victimisation by inserting councillors and Members of Parliament in the assessment and allocation of social benefits through PATH.
She says the programme, which serves the most vulnerable, can be strengthened without central and local government representatives acting as intermediaries.
The opposition spokesperson argues that social workers are better equipped for the task than political representatives.
She says PATH offices should be mandated and resourced to accurately maintain a list of all benefits which would then be shared with representatives so that they can actively refer constituents to the system, as a partner in the process.
Mrs. Duncan Sutherland further argues that the recent utterances from former Cabinet Minister Everald Warmington make it clear that some MPs believe that state resources are theirs to parcel out along political lines.
She says, while that kind of behaviour is not a reflection of all politicians, leaders must protect vulnerable citizens from the risk of being starved of social benefits because of the misguided loyalties of a few.

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