Madam Speaker, I believe we can all agree that these last two years have been extremely trying times for Jamaica, and the world. We give God thanks for sparing our lives and keeping us safe to gather here to discuss plans for the nation.

Madam Speaker, it is not an easy task to manage any Parliament. The objective is to control two competing forces, robustness and rowdiness. I believe that the last Parliamentary Year, under your leadership, supported by the Most Honourable Juliet Holness, our Deputy Speaker, and Miss Valrie Curtis, our Clerk, we have been more robust and less rowdy – increasing, not only the efficiency but more so, the dignity of our work. Madam Speaker, the environment in which Parliament conducts its affairs should be reflective of the dignity of our work and support its efficiency. It is therefore fitting that in our 60th year, construction will commence on Jamaica’s new Houses of Parliament.

There are many distinguished persons gathered with us today. Madam Speaker. Allow me to acknowledge their Excellencies, members of the diplomatic and consular corps, and to express gratitude for their continued cooperation and support for Jamaica, through various initiatives. I want to particularly acknowledge the support we have received during the pandemic, by way of field hospitals, vaccines, and other medical supplies.

Jamaica continues to stand as an amplified voice in defence of an equitable multilateral system of engagement, cooperation, and peaceful conflict resolution among nations. Jamaica has always been consistent in supporting and promoting universal respect and adherence to the principles of international law, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations.  The war in Ukraine has demanded no less of us.

Madam Speaker, I want to acknowledge the work of our public servants and public officers generally, but you will understand if I single out the Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Douglas Saunders, who has given over forty years of high-quality service to the people of Jamaica through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and since 2008, through the Cabinet Office. Ambassador Saunders will retire from the post this year, and I wish to commend him for his significant contribution to the public service across ministries and administrations.

I want to also acknowledge one of the most effective, knowledgeable, and hardworking Permanent Secretaries, Mrs Audrey Sewell, who anchors both the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Madam Speaker, we are here today because our constituencies elected us. I have been representing the people of West Central St. Andrew for 25 years now. We have achieved much for the constituency; the Jamaica China Goodwill Infant School, a new community recreation park in Molynes Gardens, the new Olympic Gardens Police Station and finally, we are building houses for 15 families that were burnt out in Belrock.

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