Portia takes reins 30 March

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Portia Simpson Miller will officially become Jamaica’s seventh Prime Minister on March 30, one day before a new Cabinet will be sworn in.

Mrs. Simpson Miller announced yesterday that the opening of the new legislative year, delivery of the Throne Speech by the Governor-General and the tabling of the Estimates of Expenditure will take place on April 12. She made the disclosure yesterday during a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, St. Andrew, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson announced that he will proceed on retirement on March 30, the same day on which he will tender his resignation to Governor-General Kenneth Hall. He said that in keeping with the desire for a seamless transition of leadership, Mrs. Simpson Miller will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister on that same day.

Mr. Patterson was also addressing reporters at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

He revealed that at a meeting of the National Executive Council of the People’s National Party on March 26, his resignation will be officially acknowledged by the party. At that time, the baton of leadership will be passed to Mrs. Simpson Miller.

According to Mr. Patterson, “There is a large number of matters with which the Prime Minister-designate needs to be fully briefed and involved.”

He explained that “Some were of an external nature, and some pertaining to matters of external relations and internal matters relating to intelligence and security.”

He said a number of things were being undertaken, but the Government continued to function effectively.

Mrs. Simpson Miller, the first woman to head the Government, grabbed the coveted prize of president-elect of the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on February 25, following a keenly fought four-candidate contest. She defeated PNP Vice-presidents Dr. Peter Phillips and Dr. Karl Blythe, as well as Region Three Chairman Dr. Omar Davies. Her victory has triggered tumultuous celebrations, largely among women and the working class.

A Gleaner-commissioned poll, which was published in last Sunday’s Gleaner, reported that a large number – 57 per cent – of Jamaicans want Mrs. Simpson Miller to be allowed to begin her administration as soon as possible.

The poll sample was 1,008 citizens, with a margin of error plus or minus three per cent.

The individuals interviewed were asked if they thought Mr. Patterson should resign now or stay on as Prime Minister for another three to four weeks if he so desires. Only 38 per cent believed he should stay, while another five per cent did not know.