Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has called for positive changes within Gordon House, to bring a new tone to Parliament with the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence in 2012.
“This 50th year of our independence is the right time for us to consider positive change for the future, to bring a new tone to Parliament, to make it a landmark and watershed period,” he told his parliamentary colleagues attending a World Bank sponsored workshop at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston on Tuesday (June 21).
The workshop, which had as its theme, “Strengthening the Capacity of the Parliament”, dealt with a number of issues affecting democratically elected Parliaments around the world, including: strengthening parliamentary oversight/fiscal responsibility framework; a review of Government’ performance budget; increasing the transparency of committees;strengthening Parliament’s ability to provide information and research facilities for members; and its representative and legislative roles.
Dr. Baugh, who has been in charge of the cabinet since Prime Minister Bruce Golding started a week-long leave last Wednesday (June 15), said that the responsibility of the MPs was to see that Parliamentary facilities are institutionally strengthened.
He called on the parliamentarians to make certain that they contribute, significantly, in terms of the institutional building of Parliament, to contribute to a sustainable macro-economic climate, which is fundamental to growth and prosperity, while achieving equity and justice so that there can be peace, safety and security.
“Our responsibility is to see that Parliament is institutionally strengthened in terms of the facilities that are available to us,” Dr. Baugh said.
He stated that, even while parliamentarians may be political adversaries reaping the benefits of the rivalry and competitive spirit in terms of debates and dialogue, they must recognize the need to strive for consensus, to become more involved, more informed and to have cogent dialogue.
Dr. Baugh thanked the World Bank and IMF for their roles in Jamaica’s development, especially commending them for their “significant contribution” to Jamaica’s progress over the past three years.
The Workshop was opened by the World Bank’s Country Representative for Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, Giorgio Valentini. Dr. Baugh was the main speaker at the opening session.
Presenters included Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams; Opposition spokesman on Finance, Dr. Peter Phillips and World Bank; and backbenchers Othneil Lawrence (Government, North West St. Ann) and Fitz Jackson (Opposition, South St. Catherine).