Among the dignitaries at the swearing in of Jamaica’s new prime minster, Andrew Holness, last week was Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin and Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush.
Mr. Holness, who was elected on Feb. 25 in Jamaica’s general elections, was sworn in on Thursday. His party, the Jamaica Labour Party, won 31 seats of the 63-seat House of Representatives. Premier McLaughlin said he was honored to receive an invitation from the new prime minister to attend the swearing in at King’s House in Kingston.
“It also allowed an opportunity for us to have a brief chat and for me to congratulate him in person. I also congratulate the Jamaican people on what was a fairly peaceful election and I look forward to working with Prime Minister Holness in the weeks and months to come in the mutual interest of our respective countries.”
Mr. McLaughlin was accompanied to Jamaica by Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose and senior political adviser to the premier, Roy Tatum. The entourage left Cayman Thursday morning and returned on Friday. Governor General Sir Patrick Allen presided over the ceremony in which Mr. Holness took the oath of office.
Describing the swearing-in ceremony as a “very inspirational affair, Mr. Bush, in comments he posted on his Facebook page, said, “Democracy is alive and at work in Jamaica. My association with the leaders of both political parties has been long and friendly. Both Portia and Andrew are my good friends. My friendship and acknowledgement of the commitment and positive contributions of the Jamaican people to our islands is never never in doubt by them.”
In his speech at the ceremony, Mr. Holness said he planned to build a partnership in parliament with the former prime minister, now leader of the opposition, Portia Simpson Miller. He said she had given “long and dedicated service to the country … we may not be on the same side of the road, but as much as possible we should hold hands in cooperation to overcome obstacles for the good of the country.”
Saying his government’s priority was to create jobs and grow the economy, he called on the private sector to invest in the local economy.
“Going forward, Jamaica’s development must rest on its ability to create propositions of value and attract investments to convert the value into wealth,” he said. “In this model, government is not the main investor, it is the private sector, whether they be large enterprises or small business.”
Mr. Holness said it was not lost on him that he was the “first of the post-independence generation to lead Jamaica,” adding, “More than anything else we want to see Jamaica take its true place as a developed country in the next 50 years.
The struggle is not so much political independence as it is economic independence. It is through our economic independence that we secure real political independence.”
Already geographically central in the Caribbean, Mr. Holness said his vision was to truly turn Jamaica into a center of finance, trade and commerce, technology and innovation, arts, culture and lifestyle in the Caribbean. “This is all possible within our lifetime. Despite any negatives, Jamaica still has a powerful and alluring brand amplifying our voice and influence in the world,” he said.