Social support boost: PATH programme gets additional $1 billion

The Government will be channelling an additional $1 billion into the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) to increase cash grants to beneficiaries.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke, made the announcement as he closed the 2020/21 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 24.

He informed that persons who benefit from PATH are characterised by having an income that is supplemented by various irregular flows, which are likely to be interrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Dr Clarke said PATH beneficiaries would ordinarily receive payment in April and a similar payment in June. 

“In a response to the economic effects of the COVID pandemic, the Government will make an additional payment of a similar amount in May, which will have the effect of increasing by 50 per cent the aggregate amount that a PATH beneficiary would have ordinarily received during this period of April to June,” he stated.

“We will have to prioritise and channel our intervention, first, to the neediest segments of our society.”

— Dr Clarke

Dr Clarke stressed that the Government is committed to protecting the neediest people from the effects of COVID-19, adding that the intervention and fiscal measures must be implemented in a rules-based approach with equal opportunity among eligible beneficiaries.

“We will have to prioritise and channel our intervention, first, to the neediest segments of our society, whether individual or business. We expect those with personal and corporate reserves that are affected by the current crisis, to put those reserves to work. Those with undrawn lines of credit from financial institutions, and those with cash balances, we expect that the Government should not be your first call,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Finance and Public Service Minister said with several measures being implemented in support of workers and the small business sector, the Government will not put taxpayer dollars at risk without the prospect of a commensurate return.

He added that if it is necessary for the Government to invest, it will invest with the view of making a return. 

“These principles will guide our approach to the targeted fiscal stimulus described and to any escalation of fiscal intervention that could become necessary in the future,” Dr Clarke said.