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Holness says proposed parliament building not a waste of money

Published:Thursday | May 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Holness ... There is a sense in the country that we must not spend anything on government.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has rejected the view that the proposed parliament building at the National Heroes Circle is a waste of money.

According to Holness, Jamaica has never had a purpose-built parliament, and now is the time.

"The building itself lacks the stature and functionality of a modern Parliament," Holness said Thursday.

He was speaking at the official launch of the Houses of Parliament Design Competition led by the Urban Development Corporation.

"There is a sense in the country that we must not spend anything on government. There is a sense that if you are going to invest in making the symbols of Government reflective of the hopes, dreams, ambitions, aspirations of the people that you are wasting money because there is great distrust of the state and indeed a separation of the state from the people," the Prime Minister said.

But Holness maintained that investing in a parliament building is not wasting people’s money.

"It is because we have not as a country made the investment in the symbols of our sovereignty why we have fundamental issues with the rule of law, fairness and dignity of the state,” said the Prime Minister.

Lauding the patron for the project renowned Jamaican, international architect, Gordon Gill, Holness said the Government is committed to ensuring wide participation from all sectors of the Jamaican society in the design of the new parliament building.

Noting that a wide cross section of Jamaicans, including the Jamaica Institute of Architects, have indicated that they will endorse the design competition, the Prime Minister said the Government will respectfully listen to the concerns of all persons.

"We are going to build this parliament and we are going to do it the right way. We are going to take all concerns on board, all suggestions, it is going to be bi-partisan, multi-sectoral and it will be done in the best interest of all the people of Jamaica," said Holness.

Prime Minister Holness asserted that Jamaica has dithered for far too long on the matter of building a new Parliament as the idea dates back to the 1950s.

A section of the National Heroes Park lands, was earmarked as the site of the new Parliament building.  

In the meantime, Holness says the diaspora will be included in the process. 

“I thought it important to invite someone from the Diaspora because in building our parliament we would want to have our Diaspora participate in some way because the Parliament is for Jamaicans and it’s not just Jamaicans living here. When we think about Jamaica now, we have to think about Jamaicans living everywhere. We have to find a way to finance it and I believe this is a way we could incorporate the Diaspora. This is a way in which we could bring them in, to become part of the creation of the sovereign building,” Holness said.

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