Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says that Jamaica’s quest for constitutional reform is not merely a way of shedding remnants of its colonial past but mainly for the populace to demand accountability from its elected officials.
He said the move towards becoming a republic is a “signal to both the State and our people that we must take greater responsibility for ourselves and for the goals and missions we set ourselves”.
The prime minister said it is intended that the change will provide the apparatus needed to hold people in authority to account for the delivery of services to citizens.
Citing a ceremony held earlier in the day to hand over the male ward at the Westmorland Infirmary, he said the five years it took for the project to be completed was unacceptable.
“Did local politics have anything to do with the delay? Were there problems with contractors? Did the technocrats and civil servants move apace, and who has the power to hold them to account? Is our system structured to hold people to account for the delivery of services, or is it just structured to name and shame and talk but there is no real accountability for change?” the Prime Minister queried, noting that it is hoped that the transition will be accompanied by a change in attitude.
“We must not be comfortable with the lack of implementation and execution of projects. We must not be comfortable with missing deadlines for quality of service, and we must make our constitutional arrangements such that they support the efficiency and dignity of the State,” he added.
A series of public consultations are being conducted to sensitise citizens about the constitutional reform process, which will see the island moving towards becoming a republic.
Holness said that the public consultations, which are being led by the constitutional reform committee, will engage citizens “on how we are going to structure our governance and governmental arrangements. However, it is not something that will happen overnight”.
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