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New NHT, NIS benefits, PATH beneficiaries

04/22/10

Permalink 05:39:08 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Politics, Commentary

New NHT, NIS benefits, PATH beneficiaries

This years budget debate has come and gone and thanks to some fervent praying by nearly everybody in Jamaica, we will not become victims to anymore new taxes. It seems that the Prime Minister and his team have decided to actually come to aid of Jamaicans instead, as they move to cut NHT rates, and lift the NHT loan ceilings so that people will be able to access more money from the NHT. Another thing that the government has done is increase the people who will be able to benefit from the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH... dunno where the E is), and increased the cap for people who will be able to benefit from the NIS. This so far adds to 2 things that the government has done which I am in complete agreement with, since I've started writing in this journal... I dont completely agree with the move though, but I can see its merits.

For those who dont know, the NHT (National Housing Trust) is essentially a revolving loan that all Jamaicans have access to as long as they have contributed to it. NHT deductions come directly from your paycheck, and all businesses (even self employed people) have to pay money to the NHT deductions. You may gain access to these funds only if you are building a house, or upgrading/renovating a house, and you gain access to the funds at a lower interest rate than what the banks offer and as such you can pay off your loan with a fair amount of speediness.

What the government has essentially done is reduced the interest rates for people who want to access these loans. Currently interest rates are determined by your earnings and there are 3 bands a 3%, a 5% and a 7% bands, which apply to people making minimum wage weekly, between 10-20000, weekly and those making above 20000 weekly and above respectively. Now these people will be able to access loans at 1%, 3% and 5% respectively. So this is a nice move as more people will be able to move into houses. Furthermore these people will now be able to access more money, whereas before the maximum amount one could get from the NHT was $3.5 million, this number has increased to $4.5 million. But I guess a better way to say this in my opinion, is that the loan ceiling has been adjusted for inflation as $3.5 million's value really isnt what it used to be.

The PATH programme is one which is funded by the world bank, and is a programme in which cash grants are given to the most vulnerable and needy in the society. Therefore Children who are orphaned, elderly people who have no access to a pension, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and general poor adults are able to gain access to funds to help them in their lives. What the government has essentially done is taken on an extra 10,000 people under the care of the program thanks to the help of a grant from the Japan Social Development Fund to the tune of US$2.6 Billion Dollars.

In addition people who benefit from the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), will gain access to increased benefits ranging from 25 to 50% more. So people who need to purchase medicine or access health services under the NIS will get a boost there. The contribution to NIS will also increase to $50 per person, per week as well.

As far as the moves by the PATH and the NIS, I cannot disagree with the government's stance, this move does help the vast majority of Jamaicans and it is certainly a welcome one. However I am forced to criticize the increased NHT loan... not because I think it is excessive or anything like that, but because upon reading about this I was forced to ask, who will really benefit from this move? The lower income earners will certainly have more on their minds than building/purchasing a house, especially in these economic times. Middle income earners will also mainly be trying to stay afloat in a market where the government is selling out all our jobs to foreign countries. So it seems the only people who will see the real benefit from this is the rich...

But then again, maybe I am just being too cynical...

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Bruk Pocket Jamaican

"Recently, this Jamaican won the 10 million special lottery for a dollar. As soon as the office of the Lottery Corporation was open on the following day, he was there to collect his winnings.

Graciously, he presented his winning ticket to the clerk and in his best English uttered his request "Me cum fi collect the 10 millian dallars, si me ticket ya".

After reviewing and checking the ticket with his manager, the clerk returned and requested on how he would like his payments. The Jamaican replied "Mi wan all a de moni now". "Unfortunately, Sir" the nervous clerk responded, "The procedures are that we can only give you one million now and the balance equally over the next 20 years".

Furious and agitated, the Jamaican asked for the manager, who re-iterated "Sir, my assistant is correct, it is the regulation of the corporation that we initially pay you one million dollars now with the balance paid to you equally over the next 20 years".

Outraged, the Jamaican slammed his hand on the desk and shouted in anger, "Oonu tek me fi idiat, me wan all a de moni now or oonu gi me bak me rass dallar!!"

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