Holness outlines plan to lead through partnership
KINGSTON – Jamaica’s ninth Prime Minister, Andrew Michael Holness, yesterday offered new hope to many Jamaicans as he pledged to lead the country on a path to prosperity through partnership with various stakeholders, including the private sector and the Opposition.
Holness, delivering his inaugural speech at his swearing-in ceremony at King’s House in St Andrew, said now more than ever the Government must lead, activate, empower and build real partnerships in order to achieve the vision of shared prosperity through inclusive economic growth and meaningful job creation.
“My dream is to fulfil your dream,” he told his audience, including the wider Jamaica watching on television. “We must create a Jamaica where there is hope and opportunity. Where we can encourage our children to dream big and be optimistic about their life chances.”
The solutions to Jamaica’s problems, he said, do not rest with government alone.
“The sum total of our potential exceeds our problems; our collective capabilities are greater than our challenges, but it is only through partnership that these capabilities and this potential can be seized, harnessed and realised for the good of Jamaica,” said Holness whose Jamaica Labour Party won the February 25 General Election with a wafer-thin one-seat majority in the 63-member Parliament.
The 43-year-old Holness, who was given his own mandate for the first time, having first taken the reins of power in 2011 when Bruce Golding stepped aside, said he was under no illusion as to the meaning of the mandate.
“We have not won a prize. Instead, the people are giving us a test. There is no absolute agency of power. This means that the winner cannot take all, or believe we can do it alone,” he told the large audience which included four former prime ministers — Edward Seaga, Golding, PJ Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller.
In what is viewed by many as one of his shortest speeches, Holness told the rapt audience that he is fully conscious of the magnitude of expectations and responsibility he has assumed, but is equally energised and optimistic about a prosperous future for Jamaica.
Recounting an incident on election day when he saw a young man carrying an obviously bed-ridden elderly man from a polling station where he had just cast his vote, Holness said the elderly man urged him to do the right thing.
“I stand here humbled by the awesome power of you, the people, and I commit to doing right by you,” he said.
Noting that the people of Jamaica did not vote in vain, Holness said they expect a Government that works for them and an Opposition that is constructive. This historic election, he said, delivered the smallest majority but also the clearest mandate – “fix Government!”
“With this mandate there is no majority for arrogance; there is no space for selfishness; there is no place for pettiness; there is no room for complacency and there is no margin for error,” he said.
Holness used the spotlight to acknowledge Simpson Miller, whom he referred to as the former prime minister instead of opposition leader as some had expected.
“Portia Simpson Miller has given long and dedicated service to the country and I believe the mandate is saying, we may not be on the same side of the road, but as much as possible we should hold hands in co-operation to overcome obstacles for the good of the country,” he said.
“I still believe it is a useful symbol of national unity for the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition to appear together in zones of political exclusions. I again extend the invitation,” he said, repeating an invitation he extended to Simpson Miller when he was first sworn in as prime minister in 2011.
Holness said he understands that the Jamaican people now want to see action in building trust and this is part of fixing Government. Everyone who will form the next Government, he said, must be seized of this expectation. (Jamaica Observer)