JIS News

Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Carlton Davis, outlined a number of steps, which has been taken over the years to facilitate good governance in the country, noting that every citizen has a role to play in this regard.
Speaking at the Electoral Commission of Jamaica’s long service awards at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel yesterday (April 8), he said that Jamaica has a strong culture of democratic governance and pointed out for example, that the country’s electoral system has been “strengthened beyond belief”.
“Whilst, as one might expect in human affairs, there are hitches and glitches here and there, the Electoral Commission and its office have done a marvellous job. One only has to look at what is happening elsewhere to know how far ahead of the pack we are,” he remarked.
In addition to reforming the electoral machinery, Dr. Davis said he looks forward to the Commission’s proposal in respect of the financing of political parties, “as this issue is an important one in respect of the quality of governance in any society.”
He noted also that there is much more transparency in the management of the affairs of the state, with the opening up of the proceedings of Parliamentary Committees to the public, particularly the Public Accounts Committee. The Committee became a part of Parliamentary governance in 1959 and was opened to the media and public in 1991.
Dr. Davis also pointed to the enactment of the Access To Information and Corruption Prevention Acts; the importance of post-Cabinet media briefings; the increased involvement of the private sector and civil society in the formation and evaluation of social and economic policies; and the strengthening of procurement procedures with support by the National Contracts Commission, and the Office of the Contractor General.
He also mentioned the reform of the public sector, which is taking place despite financial constraints and which is evidenced by, among other things, a strengthened executive Cabinet office and the creation of executive agencies, with a greater focus on outcomes and outputs and performance.
Dr. Davis also highlighted the unprecedented freedom of the press stating that, “we have quite a lot to be proud about, but there are a number of challenges and not all of them take a lot of money”.
In this regard, he said greater urgency should be taken in completing the work on the Constitution, which is an important factor in governance. The Cabinet Secretary stressed that it is important to recognize that a significant part of the current Constitution was derived from the 1959 statute. “So (by) next year, a significant part of the Constitution would have existed for 50 years,” he pointed out.
He said that one matter of importance, which was not mentioned in either of the two reports on Constitutional reform presented to Parliament in 1993 and 1994, is the appointment of Permanent Secretaries, which he said, involves “limited engagement” from the Prime Minister, legally.
At the function, some 151 persons were awarded for their years of service to the Electoral Commission, ranging from 10 to 42 years. Those with the longest years of service were: Florence Bernard (42 years); Beverly Marshalleck (40 years); Cherry Cummings (38 years); and Ruby Higgins (33 years).
There were 13 persons in the 25-29 years of service category; 16 were awarded for service of 20 to 24 years; 33 persons were recognized for 15 to 19 years of service; and 85 were awarded for 10 to 14 years of service.

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