Thu | Jan 21, 2021

At swearing-in, Holness urged to lay out recovery plan

Published:Monday | September 7, 2020 | 12:26 AM
Andrew Holness will be sworn in as prime minister for the third time today.
Andrew Holness will be sworn in as prime minister for the third time today.

For the third time in his more than two-decade political career, Andrew Holness will be called to King’s House to be sworn in as prime minister to shape the executive.

The ceremony is to commence at 3 p.m. today, and although a large gathering will not be permitted at King’s House, some of Holness’ closest allies are expected to be in attendance.

Holness will take the oath of allegiance and the oath of office of prime minister of Jamaica, after which he will receive the instrument of appointment from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. Some key ministers could also be sworn in today.

The ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won last Thursday’s general election in a landslide, taking 48 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives.

But with the election now behind him, Holness faces perhaps the biggest challenge of his political career. That is to bring the spread of the coronavirus under control and to resuscitate a gutted economy.

During the short-sprint political campaign, the JLP focused on undertakings to rebuild the economy from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged several sectors into an abyss.

Fitch Ratings said the election results would ensure the continuity of economic and fiscal policies but warned that Jamaica still faces challenges. Remittances have dropped, tourist arrivals in July were only 16 per cent of those a year ago, and the Bank of Jamaica expects a seven per cent to 10 per cent contraction of the island’s GDP for the current fiscal year despite a US$520-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in May.

SPEAK AGAINST CORRUPTION

Financial analyst Dennis Chung, looking ahead to today’s ceremony, said Holness should again speak about his intolerance for corruption.

He said that Holness should also use the opportunity to outline clearly the plan for the recovery from COVID-19 and the need for persons to be compliant. The country has recorded more than 3,000 infections and 32 deaths.

The prime minister must emphasise “[the] need for all of us to work together as Jamaicans to make the country a success and that he will work in the interest of all Jamaicans and providing opportunities for all. That he will lead a government that ensures proper governance and equity, even though they have a significant majority, and that he will work with the Opposition,” Chung said.

Meanwhile, public affairs commentator Jaevion Nelson said that he expected the prime minister to say how he will use his more than two-thirds majority to push through constitutional reforms.

“I want to hear from him about good governance – something we desperately need to improve as part of the post-Independence project. This should include constitutional reform and how he will strengthen the state apparatus to ensure greater transparency and accountability,” Nelson told The Gleaner.

“Finally, I want an admission about the shortcomings in his previous term and how he will address those and, importantly, to hear what is his promise to us over the next couple of years that we can hold him accountable to.”

On October 23, 2011, Holness became Jamaica’s youngest prime minister and the first born after the nation’s Independence in 1962.

Now 48, he is in his 23rd year of representational politics, having won his sixth term as member of parliament by defeating Patrick Roberts in the St Andrew West Central seat.