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A competition will be launched for an appropriate design for a new Parliament building, on which construction is scheduled to commence in the 2009/2010 financial year.
Making this disclosure during his Throne Speech to mark the start of 2008/2009 financial year in the Houses of Parliament, today (March 27), Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall said a key element of the design will be to make the new building people-friendly, as “the House of Parliament must be the people’s house.”
“It is widely accepted that the existing Parliament building and the facilities it provides are woefully inadequate for parliamentarians to properly discharge their responsibilities to the people,” he added.
Sir Kenneth explained that the need for a new Parliament building has been under discussion for many years and in view of the rich historical significance of the present Duke Street location, the new structure will be developed utilizing the existing site and adjoining lands. Steps have already been initiated to acquire the lands surrounding the present building and will be concluded during the 2008/09 financial year.
“Since November of last year, we commenced live television broadcast of the sittings of Parliament and the Senate. What is said and done within these walls directly affect the lives of all Jamaicans. It is important, therefore, for them to be able to see and hear the deliberations that take place within this Chamber, so that they can be informed and be able to make informed judgments,” the Governor General said.
Meanwhile, provision has also been made in the 2008/09 budget for the establishment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, with the necessary staffing and facilities to assist the Opposition in discharging its functions.
“Our parliamentary democracy is founded on the responsibility and authority of the Government to govern and the duty and right of the Opposition to exercise oversight and present alternatives. It is the essence of our parliamentary system,” the Governor General said.