The Government of Jamaica is having discussions to increase the number of parliamentary sittings and possibly introduce a Thursday sitting of Parliament to ensure that matters of public business are dealt with effectively.
Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism and House Leader, made the announcement today (June 20) during the closing of the 2023-2024 Sectoral Debates.
Currently, the House of Representatives (Parliament) meets on Tuesdays, while the Senate meets on Fridays. All other committee meetings take place throughout the week.
Bartlett noted that for the first quarter of the year, there were 61 sessions.
“These sessions are going to increase in the coming period. There have been talks about a possible Thursday sitting, and we’re looking at that just to ensure that all the business of the House gets completed,” said Bartlett.
The Minister noted several matters are listed on the order paper, and work is being done to structure the work programme for this year to ensure that all matters are completed.
He noted that the first part of the year is dedicated to financial debates and preparations for the budget, followed by Sectoral Debates, which after today will be completed. Sessions for Constituency Debates are scheduled to conclude in December, and select committees are expected to meet more vigorously throughout the rest of the year to complete matters on their agenda.
IMPROVEMENT TO INFRASTRUCTURE
The Minister also shared that improving Parliament’s infrastructure will be paramount to ensure that structural issues do not delay proceedings.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ budget presentation was interrupted due to microphone issues.
“This summer recess will be very active as even though Parliamentarians will be on break, Parliament administration will be involved in extensive works to return the chambers to its original form and to replace existing microphones with cutting edge technology systems,” said Bartlett.
“We do not ever want to have the embarrassment we had when the Prime Minister spoke in the budget presentation. And so the general renovation of the entire facilities here will take place over the summer break,” said the Minister.
Bartlett also commended Speaker of the House of Representatives, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, for the timely start of Parliament proceedings.
“We want to improve this record of not just being able to say we start on time, but that we start on time with 63 members present at 2 pm, and that is our objective,” said Bartlett.
He noted: “The effort in all of this is to ensure that the full period of Parliament is adequately utilised but more so that there is greater involvement of the no executive members of parliament in the business of parliament at hand.”
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