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Today, as the members of the Cabinet are sworn in, it is both my duty and honour to give the charge. I do so with the utmost sense of sobriety and hope.
I first want to say that we need to embrace a certain philosophy of governance, one far removed from the plantation model which we have inherited historically.
The authoritarian, command-and-control model where power was exercised against the interests of the broad majority and in the interest of the elite has to be totally rejected.
We are the servants of the people, and we must never forget that, with all the trappings of power.
Remember the power that we have is to be exercised on behalf of and in the interest of the people. It is not a power for ourselves, to be used for our own glory and advancement.
I have been saying consistently “It is not about me” Each of us in this Cabinet needs to say that, too. And we need to do more than say it.
We must believe that. We must really internalise that.
If we have this concept of governance that it is for the enablement of people and for human flourishing, then a number of things become obvious.
Just go on the streets and talk to the people. Listen to the talk shows. Sit down with the people in your constituencies and communities and you will see that there is a great deal of expectation that is reposed in this Cabinet.
People expect us to work and to show results, not to talk and find excuses.
This must be an action Cabinet for I intend to lead an action team.
I have the energy! I have put on my working shoes so you had better put on your working shoes as members of this Cabinet!
I know I am fit and if the rest of you are not fully fit, you had better get fit by Monday morning.
The people are not giving us any honeymoon. I had my one honeymoon already-I don’t need anymore!
There are urgent things that we have to work on and important initiatives started by the last Cabinet which we must complete in good time.
I have confidence in this Cabinet. Every member of this team commands my confidence. If not the appointment would not have been made.
I am mindful of the development needs of the people. The youth want employment. We can’t leave them behind.
Our young men and young women are at risk. We must ensure that they do languish in the wilderness of unemployment and frustration.
To be able to protect the pensions and safeguard the living standards of our senior citizens who have served this country well, we have to create the surplus.
We also have to be productive so that we can prepare for those who have passed the regular working age. Our senior citizens are depending on us, fellow Cabinet members.
There are many bright, energetic and hopeful budding entrepreneurs who are just waiting on the opportunity to get the financing, the training and the marketing to launch their business.
We can’t leave them behind. They don’t have the collateral which is usually demanded.
We have to find a way to match their bright ideas and energy with the financing and the training. We can’t leave them behind.
We have to find a way to harness the boundless creativity of the Jamaican people. Poverty alleviation is fine and that will be a priority.
But let it understood that the only way to sustainably alleviate poverty is not through distribution but through growth; by enlarging the pie, by being productive, by creating wealth.
As Cabinet members our responsibility is to facilitate the full development of the Jamaican people, and that cannot be done without economic growth.
We cannot have sustainable economic growth without peace and harmony. That is why we have to get crime under control, that is why we have to tame the beast of corruption and we have to pull every sector of the society together.
I say to the Cabinet today, listen to the voice of the people. They demand, not ask, for performance. They demand, not ask, for probity and accountability.
They demand, not ask, for integrity. If we fail to listen to the people, then our democratic system provides a way for them to be heard decisively.
I end with two Biblical quotations. The Apostle Paul says, “If we judged ourselves we would have no need of others to judge us”.
If we are our harshest critics and if we subject ourselves to rigorous scrutiny and ensure that our actins are just and right, then we have no need to fear the judgment of the people.
My second quotation comes from King Solomon who says, “Whatsoever they hands findeth to do, do it with all thy might”. Work is worship.
God helps those who help themselves. Strive for excellence always.
Cabinet colleagues, I urge you to exercise the sacred trust of public office with the sure knowledge that we have to give an account to both man and God. May He guide us as we serve the people of Jamaica.