Speech by the Prime Minister

The Most Hon. Andrew Holness Swearing-in Speech for Four Ministers Sworn into the Cabinet of Jamaica

Ministers are Servants, is a theme I would like to stress today. You are appointed to serve, it is a selfless task and everyday you give of yourself. It can also be a thankless task but that should not deter you from service.

Excellency, I have had the opportunity to serve with the four Ministers who have been appointed today, and like the others who will be appointed shortly, I know that every day, they give of themselves, and I am satisfied and I am indeed, honoured and privileged to have served with them. And I make the recommendation to you Excellence for their appointment without hesitation.

I know that they too are concerned about the mandate that the Government has received, they too have expressed that they are very cautious because whilst it is an incredible affirmation of their own performance they also see it as tremendous burden placed on them because to whom much is given, much is expected and they have said to me that they do not want to fail the people, and they will work with every fibre in their body, with all their energy to ensure that we are a successful Government, and we deliver on behalf of the people.

Having said that, the task ahead of us has to be carefully managed, it is not one where we can without strategic deployment of our resources achieve the goals and objectives that we want. So, in putting together the Government we have decided to move very quickly to ensure that we have four critical posts filled immediately.

National Security, Minister Horace Chang, I deliberately did not mention security in my swearing in speech because I know I would have had the opportunity afterwards to say a few words on that. We have signed on to a National consensus on crime fighting, that consensus we consider to be durable and it will go across administrations, so though there is technically a new administration, we will of course honour that agreement which we have signed and we expect that the Opposition will do the same. A priority for us is to get the legislative agenda finished, we have several pieces of legislation including the Enhanced Security Measures Act which will, if quickly done, replace the need to have States of Public Emergency. We hope that we can have this completed very quickly so we can move ahead with our crime fighting agenda.

On that note I would also like to say that Minister Chang who has served very well and who has been a very good friend and supporter to me and someone who the entire party and Government can look to for guidance and support I find that it is appropriate that I advise the nation that Minister Chang will also hold the title  of Deputy Prime Minister.

Jamaica during our last administration played pivotal roles in several international fora and advocating several major issues. We intend to continue, and we have many projects and indeed we serve in many areas internationally and Minister Johnson Smith will continue in that regard to carry Jamaica’s flag very high in the international community.

I have said much about our economic programme so it would come as no surprise that only of the first appointments would have to be the Minister of Finance who has that significant task now of taking our ten point Covid-19 recovery plan and bringing into reality so, I have supreme confidence in the abilities of Minster Clarke to do this and of course that ubiquitous backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Immediately as we leave this venue we go to another venue to address the nation about the measures that we will take on Covid-19 and I will have Minister Tufton beside me as usually and in fact he will probably announce the measures this afternoon. So again, it will come as no surprise that Minister Tufton would be one of the first Ministers to be appointed.

Just to close, the task ahead is not going to be an easy task and I am well aware of this, part of my job will be to do a constant assessment and evaluation of the performance of the team. I will have to play more the role now of coach rather than player to make sure that any strategic gaps, any tactical short comings that those are immediately corrected and that when we are taking the long view we are actually looking in the right direction.

And in that regard I have to ensure that I have a team that is competent, I have a team that has the drive and energy, a team that exercises good judgment, and a team that understands their role and are great advocates for the mission of the Government. And in this regard, I am confident that I have enough personnel who fit the criteria, people who are competent in their subject areas, people who have the drive to get things done that has been the definition of the previous administration, and it will continue to be the definition of this administration, our Ministers must get things done.

But as they strive to get things done they must be good communicators and they must be good advocates, they must bring to the public the mission, they must explain to the public the mission and they must incorporate the public in the mission. But above all else, they must exercise good judgement. Oftentimes, the drive to get things done comes at a trade off with judgement, we can have no such trade off in this administration which is why we stress competence.

So, Ministers must know their subject area, they must know the legal environment in which they are operating, they must dedicate themselves to getting results, that is the drive they must keep the public on board, they must be good advocates and good communicators but above all else, they must exercise good judgement. And I believe if we do this across the board, this a Government that will ensure the highest integrity, the highest dignity and the highest efficiency of the Government and the State. I wish you well and I know that Jamaica will recover stronger because of your Ministry and service.