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Opening RemarksMr. Speaker, I stand before you today humbled by the great task that the Nation has placed in our hands. There was a time when some public affairs commentators promoted the view that the JLP did not have the people to be able ministers of government. Those commentators must now be amazed at how we have taken up the gauntlet, even under trying circumstances from hurricanes to high food prices. We have not faltered, we have not stumbled and most of all, we have kept our promises.
AcknowledgementsMr. Speaker, my wife and my mother are here with me today, and they more than anyone can tell you how I have dedicated my life to the service of the Nation. Public life can be brutal, ungracious, and ungrateful, today you are a hero and tomorrow you are a villain; such are the vicissitudes of politics. Everyone in this House knows how difficult it is to insulate your family from your job. I think, sometimes the families bear a greater burden than we do. While we have developed thick exoskeletons our families oftentimes suffer in silence. So today I would like to thank my family, particularly my wife and my mother for their unwavering support.
Mr. Speaker, the word constituency is a challenging word in every sense. However, one of the first words my sons learnt was constituency. We had used that word so often in our household that they understood that that is daddy’s workplace. So here to support me today, are some of my co-workers from my workplace, including Councillor Delroy Williams, Cuncillor-Caretaker Glendon Salmon, and Constituency Organisers, Veronica Baker, Elizabeth Lyn, Paula Mckenzie and Keith Kitson. I would like to thank them for the invaluable work they have done in securing a 3rd term for the JLP in West Central St. Andrew. Since I have been seconded to the Ministry of Education, my constituency time has suffered. However, Mr. Speaker, balance will soon be restored, as we must never forget the people who elected us.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the Prime Minister is overseas and could not be here today. However, I would like to place on record my deep gratitude and appreciation for his consideration for me join the Cabinet and I am further humbled to be asked to lead the Ministry of Education. Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the Prime Minister. Officiousness is a disease of high office, and extravagance can become a feature of the culture of public officials. However, this Prime Minister has led by example, in being frugal, in being personally modest with the entitlements of his office, in declaring himself the servant of the people, in making himself accessible to the Parliament and the people, and most importantly he has kept his promises. Mr. Speaker, in a low trust environment such as the one in which we live, keeping our word is extremely important. A leadership and governance survey carried out by Lawrence Powell, Paul Bourne and Lloyd Waller and published in the book, “Probing Jamaica’s Political Culture”, showed that only 7.4% of respondents could say definitively that they trust people in government to keep their promises, while 84.8% of respondents felt that they could not take persons in government at their word. This would not be surprising to most Jamaicans, because as a society we have accepted and have low expectations of trust in our government. However, what is worrying is that as a society we do not trust each other. Only 14.1% of respondent could say definitively that they trust their fellow Jamaican, 83.5% of respondents felt that they could not trust other people in the society.
Oftentimes we overlook the importance of credibility and trust in governance. Lack of trust makes society and social transactions inefficient. It increases the cost of government by forcing governments to spend more on enforcement, instead of benefiting from voluntary compliance. A government that is trusted and credible can get its citizens to change behaviour and cooperate without the need to enforce. Lack of trust increases transaction costs and hinders the formation of social capital. It is important therefore, that the Prime Minister does everything in his power to increase the level of confidence, credibility and trust in the Office and that he sets an example for the rest of the government to follow. In my view he is off to good start and I pray that God will give him the strength of will and the wisdom of mind to continue.
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