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Gleaner Editors' Forum | Guidelines for service needed to hold political leaders accountable - Charles

Published:Sunday | September 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis

A senior lecturer in the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Department of Government is advocating for the introduction of established guidelines for the roles and responsibilities of political leaders in Jamaica.

"The prime minister and members of parliament are the only workers in Jamaica who do not have a job description; they don't have guidelines as to exactly what they do, so how can you hold them accountable?" asked Dr Christopher Charles.

"What are we going to use, apart from pressuring them and pressuring them, to do what? When we haven't established as a society what they ought to do."

Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston, office last Thursday, Charles said there is need for a national discussion about the role and function of a minister, which will involve consensus from the stakeholder society, guided by the expertise of civil servants.

"Once we work it out, then we can hold them accountable. Right now we pressure them and we ask them to do this and do that and, if they are wrong, we say they are wrong, but if we have something that is established that they agree to and the civil society agrees to, then I think we will be much better on our way when we are engaging them. We can say you missed this, you didn't do that and you agree to it."

Said Charles: "We know what the development goals are. It is now common across the two major political parties, what it is a minister ought to do in each of the ministries to achieve that. What are the roles and responsibilities, given what the development targets are for the country?"

During his campaign ahead of victory in the 2016 general election, Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness had promised a job description/job letters for Cabinet ministers which would assist in ensuring they were held accountable. In 2017, Holness said the job descriptions were still being developed but, in the interim, he had been able to find other ways to hold ministers accountable.