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Story Highlights

  • The 2016/17 session of Parliament officially opened today (April 14) at Gordon House with the traditional pomp and pageantry.
  • It was highlighted by the delivery of the Throne Speech by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.
  • The official opening of the new parliamentary year also saw supporters of the two major political parties gathered within the precincts of Gordon House to cheer on their representatives.

The 2016/17 session of Parliament officially opened today (April 14) at Gordon House with the traditional pomp and pageantry.

It was highlighted by the delivery of the Throne Speech by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.

The official opening of the new parliamentary year also saw supporters of the two major political parties gathered within the precincts of Gordon House to cheer on their representatives.

            The Governor-General, on his arrival, inspected the Guard of Honour mounted by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), after which he entered the chambers of the House, accompanied by the Commissioner of Police, Dr. Carl Williams, and Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson.

Permanent Secretaries from the various Ministries and members of the Diplomatic Corps were among the specially invited guests at the ceremony to open the new Parliamentary Year.

Members of the Senate were the first to take their seats inside Gordon House.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Charles, then entered the Chamber, followed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness; Leader of the Opposition, the Most. Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; and Members of Parliament.

The Throne Speech, delivered under the theme: ‘Building a Partnership for Prosperity’, outlined the priority programmes and policies to be pursued by the Government during the new fiscal year.

The Governor-General stated that the Government will continue to drive the growth and job creation agenda through debt management; reform of the tax, pension and financial systems; implementation of a new Special Economic Zones regime; trade facilitation; expansion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise financing and capacity development; labour market reform; land titling initiatives; and undertaking a strategic plan for the outsourcing industry.

The Government will also pursue an active legislative agenda for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.

Some of the critical Bills include: the Arbitration Bill, which governs the conduct of domestic and international arbitration in Jamaica; a Constitution (Amendment) Bill to replace Her Majesty the Queen with a Non-Executive President as Head of State; a Constitution (Amendment) Bill to address the judicial review of the Director of Public Prosecutions; and the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreements) (Amendment) Bill – which provides for reduced sentences on guilty pleas.

There will be further amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act to give full legalisation for marijuana to be used for specified purposes.

Legislation will also be put in place to create fixed election dates and term limits for the Prime Minister; provide for impeachment proceedings to be brought against corrupt public officials and Parliamentarians; and the Integrity Commission Bill, which will establish a Single Anti-Corruption Body.

Later in the afternoon the Lower House will have its first official sitting for the new fiscal year, and the 2016/17 Estimates of Expenditure will be tabled by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw.