Mr. Speaker, I begin by thanking Almighty God, from whom all blessings flow.

Great is thy faithfulness. Great is thy mercy and thy loving kindness.

Mr. Speaker this is a demanding job and one I could not do without the support of family, friends and colleagues.

To the Councillors and Executive of the North Western St Andrew constituency organisation, many of whom are here today thank you for your steadfast support. Thank you for working assiduously with me to advance the interest of the citizens of North West St Andrew.

Mr. Speaker it is an honour to serve in this parliament and I thank my parliamentary colleagues for their support and encouragement. I thank the staff of the House of Parliament who are very professional and courteous and with whom I enjoy interacting.

I thank Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, for his confidence and support. Prime Minister Holness has consistently shown the courage to make and support the decisions required to move Jamaica in the right direction. He is the leader for our times.

Mr Speaker, I thank my Cabinet colleagues for their support and for a working environment characterized by teamwork, cohesiveness and shared vision.

Jamaica benefits from a first class team at the Ministry of Finance, and I thank them for their dedication and commitment.  I thank the Financial Secretary Darlene Morrison and her team at the Ministry as well as my advisory staff. I also thank the administrative and ancillary staff in my office and the security staff assigned to me who always go beyond the call of duty.

I also would like to thank the Board, management and staff of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), critical institutions that play a key role in Jamaica’s economy.

Again Mr Speaker, most of all I would like to thank my family, who now share me with North West St Andrew and by extension Jamaica. To my brothers and sister, thank you. To my wife and children, thank you for your love and support. You help me maintain balance and perspective and without you I could not do what I do. I am indebted to my parents, the late Justice Neville Clarke and Mrs Mary Clarke, who is here, for imparting values I cherish in our upbringing.


1.2 Broad Context

Mr. Speaker, Jamaica is among a small handful of countries in the world that can proudly boast of having a continuous, unbroken, liberal democratic tradition for over 75 years, 18 Pre-independence years and 57 Post – Independence years.

Importantly, our democracy is not simply “ballot box democracy”. Many countries in the world practice an illiberal form of democracy, which only works on election day. Our democracy is deep and it is enshrined in liberal traditions and institutions. (To be clear, I am using the word liberal is in the sense of classical liberalism as opposed to liberal in the modern American political context.)

The freedom of the press in Jamaica has ranked in the top ten in the world for decades. Think about that Mr. Speaker. Those in this chamber are acutely aware of how free the press is in Jamaica.

We enjoy genuine separation of powers with different and co-equal branches of government that are independent of each other – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. And we have enjoyed this separation for more than 75 years.

We operate under the rule of law and we are an open society where the rights of private property are enshrined and citizens enjoy protection of their human rights, their civil rights and their political freedoms. Freedom of speech is deeply embedded in our way of life. A few years ago we enshrined these rights by way of a constitutional amendment that inserted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms into the Constitution.

Mr. Speaker for the past 75 years, Jamaica has enjoyed universal adult suffrage where every single adult has had the right to vote.

This is a longer period than, for example, Australia, Canada, Chile, Portgual, South Korea, South Africa and many other far wealthier nations than ours for whom segments of their populations have been voting in general elections for a far shorter period of time than Jamaicans have.

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