By Romell Eubank
The Andrew Holness led administration recently scrapped the tradition of opposition members chairing some parliamentary committees. This tradition was instituted by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding and was set up for oversight of government policies and actions carried out by different sectors of the government.
Prime Minister Holness stated that opposition members mostly showed interest in the PAAC and ignored the other committees where the outcomes were likely to be more favorable to the government. This was, in a sense, a tactic to highlight the flaws of the government and paint a negative picture of the JLP-led administration amongst the electorate. In other words, they were being used for the scoring of political points.
In every organization, you have corrupt individuals. However, that does not mean the whole organization is corrupt. Jamaicans understand that theory, and despite the many accusations and findings relating to corruption, the electorate gave massive support to the JLP ensuring a landslide victory even though voter-turnout was low.
While the Andrew Holness led administration faced allegations of corruption such as in the case of the CMU scandal, they were also busy ensuring the growth and development of the country especially through road infrastructure. People want action and people understand that no government is perfect, but as long as an administration shows care and dedication to the country they will get majority support.
Some argue that this move by the Prime Minister is against the objective of accountability. They fail to realize that the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, which are two great avenues that ensure accountability, are still chaired by opposition members. They also fail to realize that these committees will be comprised of both opposition and government members. In an age and society where freedom of the press is in good standings, scandals and irregularities will be very hard to hide and so the concerns being expressed by the Jamaica Councils of Churches (JCC) are unnecessary.
Committees that examine government policies and sector performances – Internal and External Affairs, Economy and Production, Human Resource and Social Development, and Infrastructure and Physical Development seem not to be of much importance to the opposition. Some of the numbers of meetings for these committees were low compared to those for the PAAC and PAC. The wise action by the Prime Minister to allow the continuation of opposition chairmanship of these two committees despite them being used as tools for political point-scoring means the Prime Minister understands the strength of the opposition in these two areas, while those committees that are now chaired by the government members are the weak areas for the opposition members of parliament.
The voters in the 2020 general election gave the government the mandate to lead. They rejected lazy members of parliament, kept the hardworking ones, and elected new representatives that they have faith in to work for their development. The Prime Minister understands this and so he cannot allow unproductive persons to chair critical committees. The people of Jamaica want to see development and they want to see their representatives actually work.
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