Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Gov't re-examines social policy
Jamaica Gleaner
published: Wednesday | March 5, 2003

THE GOVERNMENT is re-examining the way it undertook the formulation and implementation of social policy, to ensure the full participation of all stakeholders in the process.

That's according to Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Carlton Davis, who was speaking recently at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation Project (JASPEV) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) at Jamaica House.

The SDC will undertake the "Youth Inclusion Prototype", which is a component of the JASPEV project.

The Cabinet Secretary cited the document, "Jamaica: A Framework and Action Plan for improving effectiveness, collaboration and accountability in the delivery of social policy', which he said summarised the approach that the project would take.

This approach would ensure that the various stakeholders and communities are involved in the formulation and evaluation of social policies, Dr. Davis said.

He stressed that social policy was very important, as it helped to reduce the level of poverty, while making it less difficult for those who have to carry the brunt of the cost of government.

Therefore, he said, the Government was making every effort to ensure that social policies could effectively result in the reduction of poverty, and enable people who hitherto were under the poverty line, to be positive contributors to the society.

He said that this component would focus on including the opinions of young people in developing social policies. "This MOU is an important step in this direction, as it is concerned with youth inclusion," the Cabinet Secretary said.

"Youth represent a major and significant element in the society, the opportunities, the challenges and the problems, and unless we bring them in, we are effectively falling short," he said.

In this regard, he said that the SDC has had a lot of experience working with young people, and it was the Government's expectation that the agency would do a good job in undertaking this project.

Portia Simpson Miller, Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, who witnessed the signing, acknowledged that social policies were not always sufficiently responsive to the needs of the citizens. Therefore, a more participatory approach needed to be developed to shape and monitor social policies, and JASPEV was very relevant to this process of social inclusion, she argued.

"The framework proposed under JASPEV is to develop a process that allows social policy to be designed, implemented and evaluated at all levels of the society," the Minister pointed out.

"It also provides a vehicle to test and demonstrate the government's public sector modernisation strategies through more responsive policies and the establishment of participatory methodologies," she added.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said the SDC would be invaluable in designing strategies to allow community participation in the process.

"The SDC will help design and implement methodologies to allow communities and other stakeholders at the parish level to take part in improving the delivery of social policy through a process of collaboration and accountability," she explained.

This project, she noted, complemented the role of the SDC in facilitating the building of governance frameworks, both at the community and parish levels through its Community Development Committees (CDCs), Development Area Committees (DACs) and Parish Development Committees (PDCs).

Outlining the SDC's role in the first 'Youth Inclusion Prototype', Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the organisation would support the selection of the first 40 communities islandwide that would participate in the prototype.

The SDC would also work with JASPEV in a representative number of communities to identify the current level of provision of services and areas where improvements are needed, the Minister added.

"This will allow communities to actively participate in identifying indicators to measure the improvement in service delivery," she said.

Both the Minister and Dr. Davis thanked the British Government, through its Department for International Development (DFID), for the assistance that it had given towards the implementation of JASPEV.

In his remarks, British High Commissioner, Peter Mathers, said that his government was happy to be associated with the Jamaican authorities in implementing programmes, such as JASPEV.

He pointed out that his Government's role, through the DFID, was to facilitate projects such as JASPEV, which was in keeping with their agenda of poverty alleviation and poverty reduction worldwide.

Mr. Mathers said that this programme was a key challenge for the Jamaican government in ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in the society would be given a voice in the development of social policy.

He noted that JASPEV would last for three years, with the DFID contributing a total of L700,000 towards implementation. The government of Jamaica would provide funding for support staff and premises for the project, he added.

The 'Youth Inclusion Prototype' will commence this month and should last for four months at a cost of over $2 million.

The prototype aims to improve partnerships and the sharing of information among agencies of government, private institutions and communities; and to enhance voice, influence and respect for young people and communities in decision making and in the design of policies that will affect their daily lives.