KINGSTON, Jamaica: Newly-elected Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, is moving quickly to put her stamp on the country. She has announced her government’s plans for the country to transition from a monarchy to a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State as provided for in the Jamaica Constitution.
This follows her comments during the recent election that Jamaica could have its own queen, comments which were, at the time, met with some cynicism.
The decision to “initiate the process” of separation comes as the country prepares to mark 50 years of Independence from Britain this year.
In a statement delivered after she took the oath of office to become the nation’s seventh prime minister, Simpson Miller said Jamaica “needs to complete the circle of independence” by having its “own indigenous president”.
Under the Jamaican Constitution, the Queen is represented by a Governor-General who appoints the Prime Minister.
Simpson Miller was sworn in to office a week after her People’s National Party (PNP) pulled off a dramatic 42-21 general election win over the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Simpson Miller also promised to work more closely with regional bodies, including the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“Let us, together, complete this aspect of regional integration within the life of this administration,” she said.
Barbados, Guyana and Belize are the only CARICOM states that allow the CCJ to function in its appellate jurisdiction, hearing appeals and making determinations in both civil and criminal matters from common law courts. The CCJ was formed to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court of appeal.
Further outlining her plans for the country, Simpson Miller said her administration intends to limit spending, tackle debt and boost employment as it moves to deal with the “awesome task ahead”.
“In the short and medium term, we will use state resources to stimulate employment through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). We will do so in a transparent and non-partisan manner, to improve critical areas, such as the infrastructure and the environment, which support economic growth.
“Let me say emphatically to our business community, at home and overseas “we will pursue a tight fiscal policy, reduce our debt to GDP ratio, maintain the key macro-economic fundamentals, and be very careful and prudent in our debt management.”