KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday September 22, 2014, CMC – Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson has called on the Portia Simpson Miller led administration to proceed with efforts to sever ties with the UK-based Privy Council and the Queen as Head of State.
Patterson in an address at the 76th annual conference of the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on Sunday said the party should not allow itself to be derailed in the move to become a republic.
He also said Jamaica should “sever the link to an imperial court”, in reference to the Privy Council.
For years, Jamaica has been divided on the issue of whether to make the Caribbean Court of Justice the island’s final appellate court.
Patterson said that “we will not be held blameless” by the next generation if we” fail to do these and other things to secure a prosperous future.
Patterson, as Prime Minister during the 1990s, saw to the establishment of a Commission to examine options for reform of the Jamaican Constitution, including the establishment of a Republic.
The discussions between the PNP and the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) broke down on the question of what form of republic Jamaica should become – one with a ceremonial president or an executive president.
The PNP was in favour of an executive presidency, while the JLP wanted a ceremonial president with limited powers.
Concerning the CCJ , in a judgement handed down in 2004, the UK based Privy Council ruled that the manner in which Jamaica had gone about joining the appellate division of the CCJ was unconstitutional, as a consequence the country has had to continue relying on the Privy Council as its final court of appeal, while utilising only the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean court.
Patterson who was PNP President and Prime Minister from 1992 to 2006 said the party must remain committed “to fulfill the mission on which our Founders embarked 76 years ago, for if we fail, generations to come will not hold us blameless.”
In her address to hundreds of party supporters clad in the party colour of orange, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller declared on that the PNP had passed “the people’s test.”
“We have taken some tough decisions that have started to bear fruit. Today in Jamaica billions of dollars in investment are being pumped into tourism by local and foreign investors….”
She also listed interventions by the Ministry of Education, which have led to an increase in the number of CSEC passes this year, improvements in the agricultural sector, and the increase in the national minimum wage.
In making reference to the economy, the Prime Minister said her administration is positioning the country for more substantial economic growth.
She said country’s debt was declining and its perception improving among international credit ratings agencies, such as Standard & Poors, which has upgraded Jamaica’s rating from stable to positive.
The Prime Minister however cautioned that economic independence would not come overnight and that the country needed the involvement of all Jamaicans, locally and overseas, to succeed.