PRIME MINISTERIAL STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT ON
THE JAMAICA SOCIAL POLICY EVALUATION (JASPEV)
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Members of this Honourable House:
The Government will table, today, a Ministry Paper to reflect the evaluation of our Social Policy Framework and to reveal the Social Action Plan for the next five years.
It is highly appropriate that we do so on the eve of Emancipation Day and as we are about to begin the forty-first Year of our Independence.
In all countries across the Commonwealth and across the world, there have been social interventions flowing from social policy initiatives intended to improve the quality of life of people in their communities.
In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on sustainable development.
In that context, social planners have been insistent that all development planning must be rooted in the traditions, the culture and the experience of the people themselves and that there must be a sense of ownership, not only of any project being undertaken, but of the entire process - from policy to implementation.
Attractive as that proposition might be, and as filled with good sense as the concept undoubtedly is, we are faced with the reality that incomplete knowledge about the larger national, regional and international context could severely impair the local initiative in even the apparently most isolated community in a small developing country.
The globalized economic environment and the rapid growth of new knowledge are factors, which all social policy planning and implementation must take very seriously into account.
Jamaica has a rich history of initiatives and social programmes which break new ground. Jamaica Welfare founded by the late Right Excellent Norman Manley in the middle of the last century was one such.
The Social Development Commission which is the modern institutional descendant of Jamaica Welfare and the even more recently created Planning Institute of Jamaica have been adding depth to the social development planning process and have served us well. Through the work which these institutions have been doing, we have been better prepared to meet the challenge of relating the identified local needs and possibilities to the national and global context and to strengthen the platform for realistic and sustainable social policies and programmes.
We believe that in the Year 2002, we have reached a point where serious and enlightened examination of our approach to social policy formulation has pointed us to a new and effective development model. It has drawn on our traditions.
The Policy Document has been informed by intensive and focused dialogue with individuals in communities, with professionals in communities and at the national level.
We have been assisted by international partners who themselves, by their own admission, have learned a great deal about our people and about the process of social policy formulation. The process has been an iterative one, so that reflection and reconsideration have been brought to bear on each stage of the development of the model.
I am happy therefore to lay on the table of this Honourable House this Ministry Paper on the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation Model which will inform all social policy processes in the future.
The Paper sets out a vision for Jamaica in the Year 2015, a vision which indeed will be reshaped, as we continue to achieve our goals, but a vision which reflects the kind of country we envisage:
The vision is that of
“A prosperous and dynamic Jamaica, which upholds the fulfilment of human rights, dignity for all persons and builds continual social progress based on shared values and principles of partnership. Minds are transformed and extraordinary results are produced in this the most caring and secure country in the Americas, where individuals fulfil their potential, are in control of their destiny, take responsibility for their lives and work always for the larger good.”
We have identified clear policy goals and priorities in seven critical areas.
HUMAN SECURITY - peaceful, mutually respectful society with increased safety, security and freedom from fear in the home and in public spaces;
SOCIAL INTEGRATION - inclusive and non discriminatory society which respects group and individual rights, promotes social justice, accepts diversity, builds trust and communication between all groups;
GOVERNANCE - more effective, complementary and transparent government structures, seeking to move decision-making closer to the people;
SECURE AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS - widened, higher quality livelihood and employment opportunities for all Jamaicans, with particular reference to those disadvantaged in the labour market;
ENVIRONMENT - improved environment for Jamaicans living and as yet unborn;
EDUCATION AND SKILLS - an education which facilitates life - long learning and acquisition of social and life skills for all;
HEALTH AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING - enhancement of the broadly defined health status of the population.
The Policy Framework takes as its point of departure the alleviation of poverty with the realisation that although many social policies had been developed and many interventions had been made, we had not maximised the investment.
We seek through this model to ensure that -
1. there is a stronger and better defined link between process and outcome;
2. budgetary allocations are made in a manner which avoids duplication and targets the beneficiary population more directly;
3. institutional arrangements reduce bureaucratic obstacles;
4. there are defined roles for three critical network partners:
community groups, experts drawn from government, private sector and non-governmental organisations and the political directorate;
5. there is continuous interaction and evaluation based on a systemic reliance on information.
The Framework recognises that as citizens become more aware and more demanding, the government has to be continually re-evaluating its policies to ensure that it can deliver the outcomes which people want.
At the same time, we have to formulate policies that deal with the real problem - policies based on evidence rather than those which respond to short-term pressures; that address root causes and not symptoms.
The current steps we have introduced with the new approach to the Social Safety Net bear many of these characteristics - as we focus on health and education, investing particularly in the education of our children and youth in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
This new framework model will improve the communication and information mechanisms and define more precisely - on the basis of evidence - the priority outcomes of each set of actions in the future.
We are seeking to pull in all existing social policy initiatives.
Commitments will include:
design of the next phase of the National Poverty Eradication Programme;
completion of the Social Safety Net Reform;
execution of the plan for Early Childhood Development;
development of a national policy and strategic response on HIV/AIDS;
development of a national policy to promote human security and public order.
Over the next five years, the Human Resource Council of Cabinet will provide leadership for the implementation of the Social Action Plan and the arrangements necessary to monitor progress towards the policy goals.
The core complement of staff is being recruited and a multi-functional team will be selected from the public, private and voluntary sectors to manage the first prototype - Youth Inclusion. Four more prototypes will be selected within the next month to be rolled out over the next three years.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Department for International Development, for its continued support for this initiative.
As we move forward, then, we are proceeding to establish the office and the multi-functional team to manage the first of the action prototypes. The multi-functional team will be selected from the public, private and voluntary sectors and the first prototype to be rolled out by June 2003 has been defined as Youth Inclusion - a subject which is of manifest importance to our country in the decade ahead.
I commend the Ministry Paper and ultimately the detailed documents on the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation (JASPEV) Social Policy Framework and Social Action Plan 2002 - 2007 to this Honourable House for appropriate examination and meaningful support.