New PM Pledges to Take Action on a Number of Initiatives Over Next 100 Days

New Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, has pledged that over the next 100 days, action will be taken on a number of initiatives, which are aimed at improving people’s lives and the process of governance.
Mr. Golding, who gave the undertaking in his inaugural speech after being sworn in as Jamaica’s eighth Prime Minister today (Sept. 11) on the lawns of King’s House, said that these initiatives will not require significant government expenditure.
“The financial constraints and fiscal challenges that we face are well known and the medium and long-term solutions will have to be pursued overtime. But there is much that can be done to improve the quality of governance and the quality of people’s lives that do not require large spending,” he told the gathering, which included senior government officials, members of the consular corps, and regional and international dignitaries.
Among the initiatives, he outlined, are the necessary steps to honour the commitment to abolish tuition fees in all government high schools. These steps, he informed, will begin this week.
Another immediate task, Mr. Golding said, is to deal with the lingering impact of Hurricane Dean. “There are thousands of persons, who lost or suffered damage to their homes, farmers whose crops were totally destroyed, not to mention schools and other public buildings, roads and infrastructure that were badly affected,” he pointed out. He stated that while the assessments have not yet been completed and the estimates not yet finalized, the government will “seek to expedite the processes involved so that we can help those who were affected to get back on their feet as quickly as possible”.
He noted that the country’s streets must be quickly cleaned of the debris left behind by the hurricane, and, with the active support of the various communities he will, within the next few days, announce plans for a national Hurricane Dean clean-up day. Members of the public, especially civic and community-based organizations, will be asked to join in this national effort.
Also at the top of the agenda, Mr. Golding said, is the creation of a new framework for good governance, involving a number of elements that are important to move the country forward.
These, he said, included the entrenchment of a new Charter of Fundamental Rights; the establishment of a Citizens Protection Bureau to defend the rights of citizens and secure redress where citizens’ rights are violated.
Also included as part of the process, he said, is the creation of a single, independent authority to investigate instances of abuse by members of the security forces; the reform of the justice system as recommended by the Justice System Reform Task Force; the curtailment of the powers of the executive and “the strengthening of Parliament so that it can exert greater control over the government; and the strengthening of the role and authority of the Opposition in Parliament because in our Westminster system, the strength of the Parliament depends on the strength and effectiveness of the Opposition”.
Mr. Golding further informed that measures will be engaged to make it more difficult for corruption to occur, with stiff penalties for violations. To this end, he indicated that the new government intends to impose criminal sanctions for breaches of the rules governing the award of government contracts; and establish a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute persons involved in corruption.
He informed that legislation will also be enacted for the impeachment and removal from office of public officials guilty of misconduct, corruption, abuse of authority or betrayal of public trust, and that whistleblower legislation will be introduced to “protect persons, who provide information on wrongdoing on the part of public officials”.
Meanwhile, the libel and slander laws will be reviewed, to ensure that they cannot be used to protect wrongdoers.
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Golding has been actively involved in the process of national building and has served as a Member of Parliament, a member of the Senate, Minister of Government and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party.

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