Speech by the Prime Minister

Swearing-in of New Ministers On January 11, 2022

His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, newly minted Ministers; I’m not sure if I should say congratulations, some may even say it’s commiserations but you have been chosen because I have confidence in you that you will be able to accomplish the tasks set for you.

Our newly sworn-in Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, you have a major task in front of you to reform Jamaica’s laws, to start the process of reviewing our constitution and indeed the conversation has already begun about our status as a constitutional monarchy and the change that we would all like to see, but there is a process to achieving that and we want to make sure that we order all our steps appropriately and you will have the task of guiding that from the executive perspective.

Increasingly Jamaica is required to comply with our international obligations, which oftentimes mean legislation and such legislation can sometimes be inconsistent with our own legal framework and our constitution and so greater effort would have to be put in to ensure that when we are required by virtue our treaties and other such things that we are signing onto, that when we do pass our laws here, that they are consistent.

The other issue, of course, is the speed of development of legislation and passage of legislation, so these are areas in which you will have to focus. It has been a bottleneck for the government effectively and efficiently achieving its mandate and so in the establishment of this new Ministry, we’re hoping and putting great faith in you to ensure that we have the wherewithal to make sure that the legislative process is supportive of all the other processes that government undertakes.

We welcome back Minister Floyd green. You will be joining me in the Office of the Prime Minister; there are some critical tasks there which you will undertake. One of them is to take charge of the National Identification System. The laws have been passed and we are now in the execution phase. I had the opportunity to tour the production facility last week and they’re almost ready to go but it needs that kind of guidance. It needs a dedicated ministerial attention to ensure that Jamaicans do come on board and participate fully in the national identification system.

There are also administrative issues there as well that you will have to pay attention to; the establishment of the National Identification and Registration Authority so you will have your hands full and a part of ministerial work, Minister Malahoo, is accuracy. I was almost tempted to say your old position, but Minister Malahoo, a part of ministerial work is advocacy and Minister Green you will have to do a great deal of advocacy for the national identification system. Meaning you will have to be communicating constantly with the public and you will have to become the voice and face.

I also want to welcome Minister Frank Witter into the Ministry of Agriculture. As we recover from the pandemic, we must rebuild our agriculture sector. It requires the mobilization of our farmers and farming communities and as we see what is happening globally with supply chains and the impact on prices, Jamaica must have the capacity to insulate itself somewhat. We won’t be able to do it fully and totally but we must have local capacity here to supply our food needs and a part of your job Minister Witter will be to mobilize our farmers in our rural areas and our farming communities to ensure that our extension services are supporting them and that they get the support in resources and materials that they need so that at the local level our agriculture can meet the food needs of our people.

In any government, there will always be need for human resource management. Like a company, like any organization you have to move your staff around, you have to place people in positions that suit their competencies and you have to pay attention to what the public that you serve is saying. So this is one iteration of the changes that will have to be made to the Cabinet to get us to that point of fulfilling our mandate fully to the people. So there will be more changes to come to the cabinet. 

Right now, we have focused on getting the government’s legislative agenda settled, getting agriculture back on track, getting information back on track because what has happened in the pandemic is that we have seen an unleashing of a flood of false information, fake news, and a drifting towards- I choose my word carefully, but it would seem that there is a willingness to accept and believe false information and so the government has to step-up its own information and providing timely and accurate information to the public. So we have in this iteration addressed some areas of government performance. Later on, in the year or as opportunities present themselves; there will be more changes to come.

The Government is in a difficult position like governments all around the world. It is a difficult time, but we are a stable Government. We are a solid Government. We have competent people. We have a clearly set goal and mission and with the challenges we face with the pandemic, we can say, unlike most countries that we have been surviving the pandemic certainly from a fiscal stand point very well.

We have challenges with crime, but we have our plans in place and we’re steadily working through those and I wish to assure the people of Jamaica that we will not be deterred and we are on the job 24/7 working in your service. 

Thank you