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Speech
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke .

Mr. Speaker, I once again thank the staff at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for their commitment and dedication to their jobs and for the excellence in the performance of their duties. Thanks to the advisory and administrative staff in my office.

Thanks to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Opposition Spokesperson on Finance for their contributions to the 2019/20 Budget Debate.

Thanks to the Members of Parliament, on both sides of the aisle, for your participation – even if some of the forms of expression are at variance with the wishes of the Speaker.

Thanks to the Speaker. A Trade Union leader, a former Minister of Government, a living legend who continues to serve Jamaica with distinction. Thank you for the way you have presided over these debates. I have a feeling that I may need your help today.

Thanks once again to our outstanding Parliamentary staff for your usual professional service.

Thanks to members of the media and civil society for your participation in this debate and for making your voices heard in social, print and electronic media.

My presentation in this closing budget presentation today will begin with a summary of the budget, followed by addressing certain inaccuracies and what I shall characterize as “misguided” from the Opposition, addressing other comments, incorporation of some of the suggestions made, and I will end with some concluding remarks.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Jamaica is fortunate to have a robust and vibrant democracy. Our democracy is not simply electoral in nature characterized by free and fair elections. Our electoral democracy is complemented with the institutions of a free media, an independent judiciary, and a custom of abiding by the principle of the rule of law. This collection of institutions has provided Jamaica with a liberal democracy that is one of our most valued inheritances.

Jamaica is one of few countries in the world, over the last 75 years, with an unbroken record of (i) continuous democratic elections under universal adult suffrage, (ii) liberal institutions of a free media and an independent judiciary, and (iii) no coups, juntas, dictatorships nor any attempts of this kinds.

We belong to a very special group of no more than an estimated 20 out of 200 countries in the world who can make these simultaneous claims.

For example, Jamaica had unbroken universal adult suffrage decades before Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain and many, many other countries.

Yet, Mr. Speaker the world does not have many examples of countries that have traversed the entire route from developing to developed using an exclusively liberal democratic political architecture. Most of the countries that have experienced economic transition to developed status have had illiberal regimes of one kind or another for at least part of their journey.

Even the United States did not have universal adult suffrage until long after it was an industrial economy and a world power.

I say this to say, Mr. Speaker, that for Jamaica to be among the first countries to make this transition from developing to developed status with an exclusively liberal democratic model, then liberal democracy on autopilot is insufficient.

Instead, we have to be conscious of our rich inheritance of liberal democracy but also of how easy it is to employ this marvelous gift for purposes other than economic and social development.

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