LONDON, England – (JIS) Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding has reiterated his commitment to exploring the possibility of having Jamaicans overseas represented in the country’s upper house of parliament, the Senate. Speaking to a capacity audience in Birmingham on Wednesday night (May 21), Mr Golding said the time had come to examine how the Diaspora may actively contribute to decision making and governance in Jamaica.
Reinforcing a commitment he gave to explore the issue, when he visited the UK as Opposition Leader two years ago, he said a route would have to be found through the Senate, to facilitate the initiative. He added: “Our system of representation requires that your vote be ascribed to a particular constituency. The difficulty would be to decide which constituency would receive an individual’s vote. That is a challenge but we could expand the Senate to provide for representation from the Diaspora.”
The Prime Minister was addressing more than 1200 persons on the second leg of his four-city UK tour. As was the case in London the previous night, Mr Golding was received enthusiastically and held his audience spell-bound for just about two hours.
His speech covered essential areas of his administration’s policies and programs. His plans to fight crime, boost the economy, drive investment and improve living conditions for Jamaicans were fully endorsed.
Speaking in a relaxed and engaging mode, Mr Golding thanked the audience for their contribution to the Jamaican economy, with a promise to tackle issues of concern for returning residents.
He explained Government’s social intervention programmes aimed at redressing poor conditions in inner-city communities. “I have met with all the agencies concerned with improving life for our most vulnerable. They have been mandated to go into these communities and intervene. We cannot afford to be producing so many criminals. Every child that is born in Jamaica has the potential to achieve at the highest level. We have a responsibility to ensure that they do and we are treating it seriously. We are going into these communities on a rescue mission. We are saying to people, look, we know you have not been treated well but we are here to do something about it. People from our inner city will be treated with same urgency as those from upper St. Andrew. The potholes on their streets will be fixed; their garbage will be collected on time. We have to make people feel like a part of the Jamaican family once more. ”
The Prime Minister said the school leaving age for secondary students will be increased from 16 to 18, to ensure that young people achieve marketable skill levels. He outlined a plan to introduce the Heart/NTA training scheme at the secondary level to make vocational training more accessible.
He was applauded by members of the audience for his administration’s health and education policies. Members of the audience sanctioned his administration’s decision to introduce structured casino gambling.
Responding to a question about the reintroduction of capital punishment, Mr Golding said the matter would soon be taken to parliament for a conscience vote. “If the view of the House is that we should abolish capital punishment, we will. If it is that we should resume it, we will start hanging some people,” he said to huge applause.
Industry, Investment and Commerce minister Karl Samuda who joined Mr Golding for the London and Birmingham legs of the tour outlined a raft of measures aimed at attracting investment. He encouraged Jamaicans in the UK to buy into the concept of Brand Jamaica and to return home and invest in the economy. “The prospects for doing business in Jamaica couldn’t be brighter,” he said. “We want you to come home and take advantage of the opportunities being presented under the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.”
Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Ronald Robinson who is with the Prime Minister for the duration of the tour pledged to address the concerns raised about consular matters and to provide Jamaicans in the UK with easier access to information and services.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister walked through the community of Brixton in South London where he greeted Jamaican business leaders and other members of the community.
This morning he toured parts of Birmingham where he met members of the West Midlands community.
The Prime Minister has been enthusiastically received in all the areas he has visited.