Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Talks continue on changes to Parliament

Jamaica Gleaner
Monday, November 4, 2002


Jamaica Labour Party Leader, Edward Seaga examines documents. Right: Prime Minister P.J. Patterson pore over papers just before the start of Friday's summit. - Norman Grindley /Staff Photographer

THE GOVERNING People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) have agreed to have further discussions aimed at strengthening Parliament and providing MPs with more resources to run their constituencies.

These two Parliamentary issues were among a seven-point agenda that was discussed by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and Opposition Leader Edward Seaga at their Vale Royal summit on Friday.

Coming out of the meeting it was agreed that Leader of Government Business in the House, Dr. Peter Phillips and Leader of Opposition Business, Derrick Smith will have discussions on the matter of having Opposition members chair key Parliamentary committees.

The JLP has been pushing to have monthly meetings of Parliament's Appropriations and Internal Affairs Committees, each chaired by an Opposition Member.

Currently the only committee chaired by an Opposition member in the House is the Public Accounts Committee. That committee examines the financial accounts and management of various Ministries and Government departments and makes recommendations for improvement.

At the same time, members of the both the JLP and PNP are to meet to arrive at a way to ensure equitable allocation of resources to MPs to carry out projects in their constituencies.

"The discussions will be aimed at arriving at a balance that ensures the removal of political and social tensions and the involvement of political and other stakeholders at the local level and give effect to the common intention of the Government and Opposition," said the communiqué issued after the summit.

Bruce Golding, who recently returned to the JLP has been pushing the issue of adequate and more equitable allocation of resources to MPs and would have been instrumental in getting the issue on the agenda for the summit.

The Ministers of Transport and Works, Local Government and Community Development, and Water and Housing are to meet with their counterparts from the Opposition as well as technical staff from each Ministry and the Ministry of Finance to have further discussions on the issue.