Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (third right), breaks ground for the Windsor Hills Housing project in Duncans, Trelawny on Thursday (July 12). Also taking part (from right) are Managing Director of the National Housing Trust, Martin Miller; Member of Parliament for Northern Trelawny, Victor Wright; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Karl Samuda; Board Director of the National Housing Trust, Doran Dixon; Custos of Trelawny, Hon. Paul Muschett; and Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Colin Gager.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says he will make it mandatory for all members of his Cabinet to undergo good governance training and follow best practices.
Mr. Holness, who was giving the keynote address at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Windsor Hills Housing Project in Duncans, Trelawny, on July 12, said this has become necessary to ensure that the business of ministerial oversight of public bodies is adhered to in a manner that is “both clear and effective”.
“The role of the Minister is a difficult one…an important one and one that has to be taken very seriously. The Government that I lead is cognisant of this. I have made sure, as Prime Minister, that this discussion about the effectiveness of ministerial oversight is one that we (the Cabinet) have had,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said the matter is of such importance that the Government will be redoubling its effort to ensure that all public agencies “under our charge” are working “efficiently and effectively” towards the public good.
“This business of good governance and anti-corruption is a serious matter. It is a wave sweeping across the world and it is a wave that has swept out governments. I do not intend for it to affect our Government. Our Government must be strong. Our Government must stand visibly and demonstrably in support of transparency of good governance with a firm stance against corruption,” Mr. Holness emphasised.
The Prime Minister said it is important that the public be given the confidence that there is a process that is transparent and “a process that will work”.
Mr. Holness had high praises for the Jamaican parliamentary process, which he noted is tailor-made for a healthy democracy and one that keeps the Government on its toes.
“It is important that there is an Opposition that keeps the Government alert and brings things to the public’s attention. However, the public also has to develop a sense of discernment. Not everything that is brought to the public’s attention is true. In today’s world of instant information and instant disclosure of material… the public has to develop this acute sense of separating the facts from things that are not true,” he said.
Mr. Holness said this makes it even more important for the Government to set up proper mechanisms and appoint independent bodies whose sole motivation is to investigate and bring their findings to the public in as transparent a manner as humanly possible.
“Governments can help to do that by ensuring that there are processes that can filter and put into the public domain the facts. There are those independent investigative bodies now that are doing their jobs, and I want the public to be patient with them and pay attention to what they say. It is one thing to come forward with a haystack of allegations… . We need the independent authorities to find the needles,” the Prime Minister said.
The National Housing Trust (NHT) is developing 212 Serviced Lots at Windsor, in Trelawny.