Budget Presentation 2013 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Roger Clarke, MP


Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today, to stand again in this Honourable House and to account in this Debate, to the people of Jamaica for my stewardship of the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries.

As I do so, I greet and acknowledge the support of all stakeholders in this vital sector of the economy.

Let me specially acknowledge :

My colleague Ministers and fellow Parliamentarians

The staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

Our local and international partners

Farmers’ organisations

My constituents

and, by no means least, my family.

Mr. Speaker, I stand here today a happy man- giving God thanks for the rains that have come .The drought is broken. It is the season for planting and a time for growth. Isn’t this a blessed country? We thank God for his abundant blessings and we stand ready to grasp every opportunity to grow agriculture and so to play our part in growing Jamaica. I am passionately committed to the growth and development of this nation. I believe that if we continue to grow Agriculture, we will grow Jamaica.

As a servant of the people, I am accountable to the people of this country, and I therefore intend to begin my presentation with an account of my stewardship over the last sixteen months.

Mr. Speaker, I would not characterize myself as a thin-skinned person, but I believe I have an obligation to respond to my critics. The truth is that, save and exceptthe Prime Minister, no other Minister has endured in the last sixteen months the level of sustained criticism that I have. This has ranged from my being labelled old and irrelevant, to having abandoned programmes set up by the previous administration and removing public servants from office. I do not intend to descend into a quarrel; I will just put my record on the table and let the people of Jamaica judge.

I came to the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries on the afternoon of January 6, 2012. I came alone, without a battery of consultants and relying solely on the expertise and collective wisdom of the existing cadre of employees. I certainly have not removed anyone. Some, however, who have not demonstrated the competence and the commitment to work in support of the objectives we have set, have been separated by their respective boards and with due process. Others have left voluntarily to pursue their personal interests. After sixteen months, I still do not have one single consultant, or one single advisor.

Mr. Speaker, while as a Government we listen to the suggestions and proposals of all, I am constrained to point out that this Government was elected on the basis of clear manifesto commitments. I have enthusiastically embraced any suggestion, any programme initiated by the former regime that makes sense and that enures to the development of the sector. However, I am continually rebuked for not having continued programmes started by the previous administration. I was elected with a mandate and with a programme for the development of the sector, and I will execute that programme despite the criticism. I will and I have in fact continued any programme that I inherited which makes sense….READ MORE

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