Mr. Speaker, almost 120 years to his birth, I pause to reflect on the words, achievements and dreams of a national hero, a patriot and a renowned and respected former leader of this country, The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley. In his farewell political address Mr. Speaker at the Peoples National Party’s Annual General Conference some 44 years ago in 1969, he highlighted the accomplishment of his generation, which was acquiring self-governance for us as a people… a fight which has resulted in my generation today occupying the seats of this parliament.
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Norman Manley also gave a charge and mission to my generation. For him, that mission is “reconstructing the social and economic society and life of Jamaica.” Mr. Speaker, it’s a mission I take seriously and as such the fulfilment of this mission has informed the direction and policies of the housing portfolio of this Ministry.
Over the years Mr. Speaker, as Member of Parliament for St. Mary Central since 2002, and since January of last year, as the Minister with responsibility for Housing, I am constantly reminded of the importance of serving my fellow Jamaicans… service that has embedded within it, a genuine commitment to securing the improved welfare and prosperity of the citizenry of this island nation.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Prime Minister for the continued confidence reposed in me and I also take the time to express my pleasure in serving in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing with two other significant leaders within the political directorate, operating as a hardworking trio of Ministers. I also laud the fervour and daily sacrifices of a meticulous, no nonsense Permanent Secretary in the form of Mrs. Audrey Sewell and other technocrats within the Ministry. Special acknowledgement as well for the new Acting Chief Technical Director, Mrs. Doreen Prendergast who has exhibited an innate passion and resolve in carrying out her duties.
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At the Ministerial level, Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been exposed to all aspects of the overall Portfolio within the Ministry, In fact Mr. Speaker, we in the Ministry operate as one. Thus for example you will see me taking on issues within the Transportation Sector and Mr. Speaker, a cartoon in one of the dailies last year which depicted this Minister in Half Way Tree sloganed ” No retreat, No surrender” speaks to that portfolio versatility.
Additionally, Mr. Speaker, I want to point to a new paradigm within this Ministry. In decision making, this political directorate ensures that equity reigns in making decisions related to all activities -whether it is roads, titles, infrastructure repairs, Sandy relief houses, whatever. We are leaders for all Jamaicans as Ministers of Government.
Thanks also Mr. Speaker to my directors and senior managers within the housing portfolio, and the other areas of the Ministry, who have recognized my impatience with the pace of work in the public sector, and who have come on board to bring a new urgency to the business of government.
To my Board Chairmen and members of the Boards, and their staff; of the Housing Agency of Jamaica, the Jamaica Mortgage Bank, the Architects Registration Board and the Rent Assessment Board; agencies which fall directly under my portfolio – and indeed all the board Members of Agencies within the Ministry, with whom I have worked – I want to commend you for your dedication to the giving of public service and your continued support to me as Minister, and to say to them Mr. Speaker, much more will be required as there is a whole new frontier ahead.
Mr. Speaker, it would be remiss of me if I did not recognise the service of outgoing Managing Director of the HAJ Mr. Joseph Shoucair, who has led that organisation through turbulent times and has steered that “ship” through successive administrations. We wish you well in your retirement Joe but recognise that you will only be a phone call away for your institutional knowledge…READ MORE
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