7 October 2020: After review and consultation with various stakeholders, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) recommends that Prime Minister Andrew Holness re-evaluate his position on the matter of the chairmanship of the Sessional Committees of the House of Representatives.

“We strongly recommend that the PM  engages the Leader of the Opposition to put in place performance standards for the Chairman and members of these Sessional Committees to ensure that they provide the oversight function that was intended and is required from these committees” said PSOJ President, Keith Duncan.

Civil Society Groups have made recommendations that can be considered in these deliberations.

Oversight and Scrutiny of policy is paramount

Sessional Committees have the responsibility of ventilating Government policy positions and projects and to bring these deliberations into the public space while providing oversight on behalf of the Jamaican citizenry.

The PSOJ has received clarity that the development and execution of Government policy and projects will not and have not been hampered by the relative inactivity of these committees. Notwithstanding, it is disappointing that our elected legislators have not provided an acceptable level of oversight, review and scrutiny of Government policy positions that fall under the purview of these Sessional Committees.  While we believe, this disregard of national duty should not be tolerated, we also do not believe that removing the oversight function from the Opposition is an acceptable solution.

The Opposition must be held accountable

The Opposition has a duty and responsibility to execute and must take responsibility for the failure of this oversight function as the effective operation of these sessional committees is paramount to the maintenance of accountability and good governance.

Space and Resources not insurmountable

We do not accept that the constraints of space and resources for convening of meetings are insurmountable. The chairman has the authority to name a time and place which does not require the sitting of these Committees to be in the House. With regards to resources we are of the view that these resources required to support the Clerk of the House and the secretarial services could have been prioritised and should now be prioritised.

Continue to build transparency and accountability in Parliament

Jamaica is a maturing democracy and we must be deliberate in our efforts to build more transparent institutions on the principles of accountability with the appropriate checks and balances that protects the Jamaican people.

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