KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 3, 2011.- Jamaica became the first country to host a national consultation on the World Bank’s newly developed concept note for its Social Protection and Labour Strategy 2012-2022. The consultation took place on February 22 at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston with a group of national stakeholders mobilized with the assistance of the Planning Institute of Jamaica.
In welcoming participants to the consultation, Badrul Haque, World Bank Special Representative to Jamaica, noted Jamaica’s successes in its social protection programme, particularly through the national conditional cash transfer programme, PATH, and encouraged them to add their knowledge to the discussion on the concept note.
“The success of PATH in Jamaica and the hard work of stakeholders like you who have worked towards providing Jamaica with a social safety net programme that is efficient, effective and relevant to the country’s needs, is why we are here this morning,” Dr. Haque stated. “We want to hear from you Jamaica. Help us, through your experience and knowledge develop a global strategy that will serve the needs of Jamaicans and those of other countries.”
The half-day consultation was attended by representatives from relevant government ministries and agencies, including the Ministries of Labour and Social Security, Health, Education and Finance and the Public Service.
Representatives from state agencies such as the Child Development Agency and the National Council for Senior Citizens also participated in the discussions, as did members of private sector organisations including the Jamaica Employers' Federation, and NGO groups such as the Women's Resource Outreach Centre (WROC) and the Combined Disabilities Association. Technical specialists from other international development partners also attended the event.
The diversity of participants contributed to rich and meaningful dialogue during the Jamaican consultation, and a number of them said they learnt a lot during the session.
Dorothy Whyte, Executive Director of WROC, welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the discussions and noted that civil society organisations like hers had a lot to offer in developing social protection policies and strategies.
“I found the consultation very informative, regarding social security and labour market issues. As civil society, we are well positioned to give assistance and information as we work directly with the grassroots. We are not just talking about policies but we are practical, we know the realities on the ground,” Whyte said.
Helena Ribe, World Bank Sector Manager for Social Protection in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, presented the concept note on behalf of the Bank and moderated the discussion. She noted with pleasure that some of the areas of focus in the new global social protection strategy are already being implemented in Jamaica through programs such as Steps-to-Work, which targets unemployed adults in poor households and builds their skills help them seek and retain employment.
“We had a rich exchange of experience sharing and this will feed into the Bank strategy for the next ten years,” Ribe noted. “We were delighted that Jamaica was the first country where consultations took place and feel this is evidence of Jamaica's leading role in the implementation of effective social protection programs like PATH.”
Online consultations and other face-to-face national meetings in various countries are being held to receive feedback on the concept note. The concept note was drafted in preparation for the development of the World Bank’s Social Protection and Labour Strategy 2012-2022.