Mr. Speaker, with the swearing-in of Senators and Members of the Parliament a new government of Jamaica is now effectively in place.
Mr. Speaker, I stand here, Prime Minister of Jamaica, humble servant of the people and faithful steward of their affairs.
Mr. Speaker, the Almighty has been good to us. His grace and mercies continue to see us through the toughest of times and we who are in these hallowed halls give thanks on behalf of the people.
Mr. Speaker, you have given long, dedicated and distinguished service to this beloved country of ours, from fighting for the rights of Labour, to being imprisoned, to now Speaker. Your journey to this chair is an inspiringly epic one and we salute you.
Mr. Speaker, yours is an awesome task. Tremendous responsibilities rest upon your shoulders. We have every confidence that you will be judicious, firm, impartial and professional in presiding over the business of the House. For in doing so, you will uphold the illustrious traditions of the venerable office you hold, as others before you have done. We pledge our unwavering support and abiding respect to your office.
Mr. Speaker, sometimes we forget that we are on constant display. Accept it or not, we are looked upon and expected to be role models and examples of good public conduct. Every member of this Parliament must recommit themselves to uphold the highest standards of conduct in the house. We can be forceful without being offensive, we can be incisive, without being insulting.
Mr. Speaker, I must use this occasion to also salute the professional, dedicated and hardworking staff here at the Houses of Parliament. They give sterling service to us as Members, and by extension, the people who send us here.
To our Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Assistant Clerk, we say a big thank you.
Mr. Speaker, we are a blessed people. We boast a strong and vibrant democracy. We are a nation of laws – a nation that honors and reveres the voice of the people.
As a country, we creditably navigated the cut and thrust of a keenly contested General Election – and for that we can be immensely proud.
As Prime Minister, I wish to thank and applaud the people of Jamaica. We have shown the rest of the world yet again, that ours is a democracy that is alive and well. We have the enviable fortune of dignified, gracious and seamless transition of power after parliamentary elections from one political administration to the next, when the results so require.
Mr. Speaker let me specially acknowledge the leadership and staff of the Electoral Office of Jamaica and all those who worked to make the election a success. The observers, supervisors, presiding officers, and poll clerks, indoor and outdoor agents. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the dedicated and hard working men and women of the security forces, and those who served as auxiliary police personnel on Election Day. To them I say thanks on behalf of the Government and the Parliament.
I wish to thank also, the private sector, the press and the various organizations and missions which observed the conduct of the elections. They are important checks-and-balances and are instrumental in shaping and safeguarding our democracy.
Mr. Speaker, the 63 of us elected to this Parliament on 25th February offered ourselves to our respective constituents on Nomination Day. We presented ourselves to them and pledged to serve them.
Our being here today is a signal of the confidence they repose in us and the awesome responsibilities they have entrusted to us.
In campaigning, we crossed bridges, negotiated puddles of water, traversed steep inclines and navigated hilly and rocky terrain to meet them and solicit their support.
We are here to serve them, and not the other way around. We are their servants, not their bosses.
We must not let them down.
We are accountable to them and must endeavor to be accessible to them.
Good representation makes better communities. Better communities make better constituencies. And better constituencies make a better Jamaica.
Mr. Speaker, the composition of this Parliament is historic. I am joined by my wife and this has significance for the emphasis on families. Stronger families make a stronger nation.
I am sure the realities of the seat distribution in this Parliament are not lost on us. I am equally sure that we are all mindful of the tremendous opportunities and challenges this situation presents.
This is a moment that requires cooperation. This moment requires maturity, partnership, consensus building, and most importantly, patriotism. We must put Jamaica and the people of Jamaica first. The nation is looking on.
This must be our call to action. Let this be a turning point in this Parliament and this blessed island home of ours.
Mr. Speaker, the focus of our government will be:
- Inclusive Economic Growth
- Job Creation
- Sustainable Debt Reduction
- Improving the General Well Being of Jamaica
Already we have started the process of fast tracking investment projects that are only being held up by decisions.
We have started work with the support of the IMF on our proposed reforms to the tax system to ensure that when they are implemented they mutually reinforce the twin targets of growth and fiscal balance.
We have already started to take charge of the challenges faced in the healthcare system and the potential threats of epidemic diseases.
I pledge to be an activist Prime Minister
I pledge to lead by example. I will lead from the front.
Let us endeavor to provide that leadership together, in a partnership for Prosperity.
Let us endeavor to be sober, respectful, forward-thinking and mature as elected representatives of the people of Jamaica.
I offer myself to you and extend my hand in partnership to each and every one of you. Let us put the people first and work together in building this great nation.