The 2010/11 session of Parliament got underway today (March 25), at Gordon House, highlighted by the delivery of the Throne Speech by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Dr. Patrick Allen.
This year the large crowd of well-wishers who traditionally lined Duke Street to view the proceedings, and offer sporadic cheers, was not present due to the area being categorised as a sterile zone, as students were engaged in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), at the schools in the area.
However, promptly at 10:30 a.m. the Guard of Honour arrived, led by the Jamaica Military Band. Soon after, there was the arrival of the Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Owen Ellington, followed by the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders.
Specially invited guests, including members of the business community, Permanent Secretaries from the various Ministries and the Diplomatic Corps continued to stream through the doors of Gordon House.
Soon after, Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding along with Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller arrived and led Members of Parliament into Gordon House.
At 10:49 a.m., the Governor-General arrived and was met by Major General Saunders, after which he inspected the Guard of Honour. Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives then entered the chambers and took their seats.
The Governor-General was escorted into the House by Major General Saunders where he read the Throne Speech, which outlined the priority programmes and policies to be pursued by the Government during the new fiscal year.
In his second Throne Speech as Governor-General, he outlined the priority areas for the 2010/11 financial year. The areas include the economy, crime, education and the infrastructure. At the same time, the Government will be seeking to increase its support for the poor, protecting citizens' rights and strengthening the role of the Houses of Parliament.
Later in the afternoon, the House had first official sitting for the new fiscal year. This will be marked by the tabling of the 2010/11 Estimates of Expenditure by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw.