The Prime Minister was speaking at the start of the new Parliamentary term yesterday (September 15) following the swearing-in of Senators and Members of Parliament at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
Prime Minister Holness used the occasion to set the tone for the new term as he emphasized the reforms to come in education, upgrading critical infrastructure, digitization of all government services, and the pursuit of a national identification system which will allow Jamaicans greater convenience in transacting business and interfacing with and accessing government services and benefits.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government has committed to growing the education sector and developing solid human resources, this with a renewed focus on schools specializing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and the Arts.
“The Government has committed to fast tracking the development of six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) focused schools, and we will also build one school for the creative and the performing arts. There is a reason we have to do this, and very quickly, Jamaica has been left behind in many of the productive revolutions that have happened for many reasons; we cannot afford to be left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Jamaica has everything to be a leader,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In that regard, the Prime Minister noted that the High-Level Education Commission is well underway in its mandate to deliver a report with the recommendations to reform the education system.
According to Prime Minister Holness, Jamaica must move ahead in developing the human resource for coding and artificial intelligence and the expansion of knowledge services. He also committed to providing the required broadband internet and related capacity to support this thrust.
Moreover, the Holness led Administration intends to pay close attention to housing, particularly, rural development, and water. He added that the Government has developed a plan to allow 100 million gallons of water into the system that will serve the southern coast of the island to significantly relieve the water shortages in this section of the island.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness asserted that the Administration must be strong, strategic, and deliberate in making deep institutional reforms that are necessary for removing the bureaucratic hurdles that have hampered development.
“This Administration must ensure that our public bureaucracy is efficient so that we can gain the dividends of that efficiency. We talk about the Customs Act, for example, which significant work has already but done on, but we need to complete that. We talked about creating a digital society and it has largely been theoretical and more aspirational, we now need to truly bring our Government into the digital age,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In this regard, the Prime Minister added that Parliamentarian must bring the NIDS Bill to Parliament and have it approved. In addition, all Government services and their business processes must be re-engineered and aligned with digital provisions.
Among other things, the Prime Minister has committed to supporting the most vulnerable, and to start an agri-care programme for farmers. He aims to create household wealth through divestment and public-private partnerships.
The Prime Minister also committed to upgrading the healthcare system.
“Investing in our health system and infrastructure is a major commitment of this Government, and we are going to be upgrading a number of hospitals and health facilities. We will also be improving our laboratory and surveillance systems to ensure that we can continue to manage this Covid-19 pandemic”.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister encouraged all Parliamentarians to prioritize the development of Jamaica and their constituencies, and to foster a spirit of cooperation which will work for the benefit of Jamaica.