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PM: Don't drop the ball!

Published:Thursday | August 1, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Christopher Zacca (left), president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, looks on as Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Lloyd Goodleigh, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, sign the Partnership for Jamaica Transformation Agreement at King's House yesterday. - Colin Hamilton/FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER

Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday challenged stakeholders involved in the Partnership for Jamaica Trans-formation Agreement not to "drop the ball" on the new agreement.

She said ensuring the success of the agreement was particularly important, as it was an opportunity for young Jamaicans to rid themselves of the shackles of debt and the tribal nature of politics.

"Let us use this partnership to ensure that never again will our people, our workers, our industries, our service providers, our children yet unborn, be enslaved by debt, [and] by divisiveness," the prime minister told a gathering at King's House.

She said that with the agreement being signed, the stakeholders involved must now move from signing to action.

"Much work lies ahead for every sector representative sitting at the partnership table and, indeed, for every citizen. I urge us to concentrate not on the magnitude of our problems, but on the specific priorities identified in the agreement," the prime minister said.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, used the occasion to caution the different partners to hold each other accountable for any violation of the agreement.

"We need to break out of the tradition where we provide tacit and sometimes public support to our colleagues even when we know they are in the wrong. If any anyone chooses to violate the principles and undertakings in this partnership, we must be prepared to publicly criticise and reject their actions," Zacca said.


He cautioned that anything less will only serve to bring the country "deeper into whatever mess has been created and no way close to finding the appropriate solutions to our problems".

The Partnership for Jamaica Agreement commits to the fostering of social dialogue around issues critical to the development of the nation. The priority focus areas are fiscal consolidation, adherence to rule of law, ease of doing business, and employment creation, as well as energy diversification and conservation.

The partners to the agreement include the Government, the private sector, trade unions and civil society. The Opposition had declined to sign, but Opposition Leader Andrew Holness was quoted earlier as saying, "the Opposition supports the concept of a social partnership and we have and will continue to participate on the National Partnership Council".

The National Partnership Council, chaired by the prime minister, comprises representatives of the Government, Opposition, private sector, trade unions, civil society, academia, and special interests. It is a forum for discussing national issues and fostering collaboration and consensus.