Several Members of both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday (November 13) paid tribute to former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. P.J. Patterson for his role in shaping Jamaica’s post-Independence Parliamentary landscape.
Mr. Patterson served as the nation’s sixth Prime Minister from March 30, 1992 to March 30, 2006.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, described the former leader as a brilliant, intuitive politician, who was a master of legislative and administrative detail.
She described him as an “all-purpose parliamentarian”, who managed more ministerial portfolios than any post-independence politician and was the embodiment of excellence in public service, serving longer than any of the country’s leaders.
“You impress by the consistency of your political conviction and social conscience. Equally, your consensus-building and pragmatic style remains a model of how we should do business in party, in government, and in society. For these and other reasons, we celebrate you today as an extraordinary parliamentarian with an enduring international vision,” Mrs. Simpson Miller stated.
She also cited Mr. Patterson’s love for music and dancing, while stating that few would contest his expert knowledge of jazz.
The Prime Minister noted that Mr. Patterson has been the recipient of local and international honours and awards, and the South African Government recently announced that he is to be conferred with the high national award of the Order of the Companion of O.R. Tambo in Gold.
Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, described Mr. Patterson as one of the most dedicated public servants in Jamaica.
He said that in Mr. Patterson’s 14 years as Prime Minister, Jamaica went through social and economic changes and under his leadership there were several initiatives to transform and modernise the public sector. “I want to single out the education transformation initiative, which had significant partisan support,” Mr. Holness said.
He also added that Mr. Patterson was a man of great resilience and was very thoughtful before speaking.
Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, for his part, highlighted Mr. Patterson’s contribution to Jamaica’s economic progress, including the reform of the tax system and the introduction of General Consumption Tax (GCT).
“Not only was it (GCT) complex and far reaching in its impact, relieving the burden of taxation on the productive sector, but it was perhaps among the smoothest implementation process, without any social or political disruption whatever,” Dr. Phillips said.
Member of Parliament for West Kingston, Desmond McKenzie, said Mr. Patterson was someone he always admired for his devotion, perseverance and modesty.
In his response, Mr. Patterson expressed his appreciation, while noting that he was “humbled by this exhilarating ceremony.”
“For me it’s more than personal. It signifies Parliamentary recognition that those who have been prime servants in the political vineyard are worthy of its time and attention in the course of celebrating a significant land mark in our nation’s short history,” he stated.