State of the Nation Debate by Senator Robert Montague

Release Date: 
Friday, November 9, 2012 - 09:30

Contribution to the State of the Nation Debate, The Senate, JAMAICA On November 9, 2012.
By Senator Robert Montague

Quotes

Hurricane Sandy

“…..We must also be thankful, for our workers in the essential services who gave yeoman service; the firemen and women, the nurses, doctors, ancillary workers.

But we must also commend the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the parish Disaster coordinators, volunteers, at each Parish Council, the parish Disaster committees and ordinary citizens……”

The Economic Crisis

“……The lesson that must be learnt, Mr. President, is that any crisis we face, united as a people we can overcome. In this light therefore, I urge the Minister
of Finance, to be brave and be bold, in facing this economic crisis that faces the nation….….”

PC’s to return 150M Allocation?

“…Since the passage of Hurricane Sandy, however, reports have surfaced, that the Minister has instructed that this money be returned to the Ministry! Can you
imagine, Mr. President, is it that Hurricane Sandy, has cleaned all the drains? All the drains in St Ann……………”

Clarendon PC Secretary/Manager

“…….I too must ask for a review of the decision , to transfer the Secretary/Manager, from May Pen to Lucea. While the letter of the law allows it, the spirit doesn't. Sir, why are we treating a female public servant who has given nothing but sterling service in this fashion?.......”

The Crisis Of Government Leadership

“…….Present in body but not in mind is not good enough! Making a few staged speeches is not good enough, they can start with an apology to the people
with regards to the false promises that we're made during the elections. Mr. President, I want Jamaica to succeed, I want Jamaica to grow, we have problems, historic in nature, but very present. If our leaders don't show the mettle of good leadership, they will lose the trust of the people…..”

Table Of Contents
Salutations
Kudos To The Essential Services And Their Teams
The Workers
For Those Who Suffered Loss
Prayers For Others
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller
Lack Of Preplanning
No Sense Of Urgency
Minister Of Local Government
Budget Allocation For Emergencies
St Andrew/St Thomas Border Dilemma: Who Was In The Helicopter?
Hunger “Tun Up”
PC’s To Return 150M Allocation?
One Term Government
Political Victimization Caution!!
Priority I: The Indigent
Priority II: The Farmers
NSWMA Vigilance
Parish Disaster Areas: Call Out The Army And The Church
JDIP
Sandy’s Impact On Jamaica
Crisis Extent
National Implications
Tourism
Jamaican Remittances
The Golden Rule Of Unity
Jamaican Economic Storm
Nanny The Leader
We Must Lead By Example
Protect The Poor And Vulnerable
IMF Draft Letter Of Intent
JLP Programmes/Policies Implemented
The Robert Mugabe Issue
National Heroes Need To Be Pardoned
The Poor State Of Early Childhood Institutions
Ministry Of Education, Cannot Account For $40m, From A World Bank Program?
Student CXC Assistance
The Land Administration And Management Programme (LAMP)
Land Administration For National Development (LAND)
Triple Play Legislation Delayed
Action Needed Now To Prevent Grant Loss
14,000 Title Backlog
Local Government Reform Concerns
National Advisory Committee
Recommendations Drafted And Accepted
Local Government Reform Unit
Mayor Bertel Moore
Local Government Reform Communication Poor
Review Of The Portmore Municipality
Local Government Concerns
Parish Council Resources
A Review Of The Decision, To Transfer The Secretary/Manager, From May Pen To Lucea
Who Is Related To The Minister? Conflict?
Pay Cut For Civil Servants
The Promise Of Street Lights
Solar Street Lights?
Fire Brigade Service
Lack Of Equipment
Local Government Reaction To Sandy
Getting Little Things Right
National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA)
Dengue Outbreak
The Tiki Tiki, Program: The Mayor’s Lack Of Knowledge
Do Not Fire The Minister!!
Our Infirmaries
New Suvs Vs. Indigent Housing
Sell The Suvs
The Government’s Leadership Crisis
Salutations

Mr. President, thank you sir for allowing me to speak today. Let me thank The Leader of Opposition, Hon Andrew Holness, for putting his confidence in me and
appointing me to this Honourable Senate.

Mr. President, let me thank my family, friends and well wishers, who have and continue to support me, during my service though politics, in helping to build a
better Jamaica. But most of all Sir, I wish thank my God and Savior, who continues on a daily basis to guide me with his mighty hand! And Sir let us all give our heavenly Father thanks for the blessings on Jamaica, land we love.

He once again, he showed His mercy as although we got hit by Hurricane Sandy, we are still thankful, because it could have been worst.

Kudos to the Essential Services and their Teams

The Workers

We must also be thankful, for our workers in the essential services who gave yeoman service; the firemen and women, the nurses, doctors, ancillary workers.
But we must also commend the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the parish Disaster coordinators, volunteers, Mayors, Councillors, and agency staffers, at each Parish Council, the parish Disaster committees and ordinary citizens, who did extraordinary things during the storm.

Jamaican once again showed that once we unite we can face any storm.

We thank our workers from the utility companies, who are working tirelessly to get us back to normalcy. The NSWMA workers, who are left with the task of cleaning up, and carting away the debris. But Sir, this Honourable Senate must salute the Jamaican people, for their spirit of community! As many have come forward and have without question worked to cut trees, clear landslips, assist others and really worked, to ensure that their brother or sister is ok. The sense of
community is telling us there is hope yet for Jamaica.

For Those Who Suffered Loss

Mr. President, I and indeed all of would like to share a kind word, to those who lost roofs, homes, farms, and other properties, as a result of the passage of the hurricane, to the family in Bedward Gardens, who lost a member, we hope and pray that you will be able to overcome your great loss. While the experience is
traumatic, frightening and heartrending, you are alive! And most importantly He is alive, and as a result, we can face tomorrow! Have hope in a better day.

Prayers For Others

Let us all also Mr. President join in prayer, for our brothers and sisters, the Caribbean and North America, who suffered, not only the loss of property, but many lives. We feel for them, we hurt with them, as much as we too are suffering the pain of loss; we want to lift them up! We trust, that they will turn to psalms 46, and understand that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble”

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

Permit me too Mr. President, to single out and thank the Most Honourable Prime Minister, for bringing all the response teams together, because based on what
was happening before, if the PM, didn’t return on Tuesday, the situation, could have been worse. And a grateful nation must say thanks. You do I say this?

Lack of Preplanning

No sense of urgency

There was no sense of urgency, before the PM, returned, there was a lack of proper, pre planning, Parish Councils, were mobilized late on Tuesday, notification for relief purchases were late. Sir, we have a new class of Mayors, many without the experience or training for dealing with a disaster like this, however they were never given the needed training, to equip them to deal with this situation, as a result, structured cleanup efforts were not started in many areas until two days after the event. Sir some areas are still left to be started or completed. Case in point the town of Port Maria still has mud all over, and at many critical areas. Hardly any pre positioning of equipment was done, power saw and heavy equipment operators, in many instances, were not notified.

Apart from in Kingston, what provisions were made for the homeless?

Minister of Local Government

The Minister of Local Government, fell down on the job or fell asleep. There is a manual with all the steps, that were to be taken, and if they had received any training the response would have been better. However, the Mayors rose to the occasion, and did what was to be done. I want to congratulate them. They lead from the front, they were out in the field, even just to give a comforting word! They have done the best they could have. But the training must now be done urgently!

Budget Allocation For Emergencies

Sir, 150m, was budgeted for emergency drain cleaning and road repairs for the financial year, 20m for road repairs, yes 20m!and 130m for drain cleaning. Can
you imagine that Mr. President? Then, 50m was allocated for OPEM, this however, is not for relief supplies, it is to be deposited in the National Disaster Fund! both allocations are capital sums! Both are contained under capital A, in the budget. And NSWMA was allocated 10m,! which is to build a bridge at the Riverton Landfill! We are located in the hurricane belt, we are impacted by weather systems every year, it is full time we make adequate budgetary allocations for disasters. If we fail to plan, then it is clear that we plan to fail!

St Andrew/St Thomas Border Dilemma: Who was in the helicopter?

In all this, Mr. President, something happened which shocked me, knocked the wind out of me, on Saturday, ODPEM, in continuing their efforts at sending relief
supplies out into the field, earmarked the border region between St Thomas and St Andrew, one of the worst hit areas, people there had made contact with ODPEM, and they knew of the grave situation, the people were marooned, had not eaten from Wednesday, they were suffering, old ladies, babies, crying, children terrified, men and women desperate and hopeless! ODPEM, on Saturday, loaded up the helicopter, was ready to go, when word came; the helicopter was needed to take someone important, to give a speech! The supplies must be taken off! Oh My God! A speech over suffering? Who could be so cold?
Reports surfaced later that not only did the helicopter drop someone in St Elizabeth, Mr. President, but it had to wait on the ground, idling, while the people were starving!!

Mr. President, and to make matters worse, some mischievous, malicious bad minded people are saying it was the PM, that was on board. No, no no sir, not my PM. She loves poor people more than that!! Who was on board? Why was the helicopter commandeered? Hunger “tun up” What was more important, the speech or the hunger of our people? Is this people power? While the hunger tun up in St Thomas, and the people were starving, starving, starving: someone was talking talking, talking in St Elizabeth! Is this people power? Do we love people? Or do we love power? I am sure my PM, will soon clear the air on this matter, and I want to beg all of us not to be mischievous on this one.

PC’s to return 150M Allocation?

Mr. President, 150m was shared and sent to the Parish Councils for drain cleaning island wide by order of the Minister of Local Government, what a good move! The Minister was awaken finally and was redeeming himself! Since the passage of Hurricane Sandy, however, reports have surfaced, that the Minister has instructed that this money be returned to the Ministry!! Can you imagine, Mr. President, is it that Hurricane Sandy, has cleaned all the drains? All the drains in St Ann……………

One term government

Mr. President, this government is fast losing the people’s trust; they are arrogant and rude, callous and uncaring. I am now forced to agree, with the thousands of Jamaicans, yes sir, civil society, workers, business people, the unemployed, who are saying “ this is a one term government”! yes Mr. President, one term!
One “deggeh deggeh” term!

Political Victimization Caution!!

Priority I: The Indigent

Let me caution against political victimization, in the cleanup effort and in the allocation of government assistance. We are all Jamaicans, all impacted by the
Hurricane, but some even more than others. Some can respond and help themselves, but others cannot. Sir, we have the indigent, the poorest of the poor, those on the pauper roll, PATH, the homeless, and some disabled persons.

We know them, and if in the best of times they need government assistance, we must prioritize their claims, they must get first!

Priority II: The Farmers

Our farmers but be next in line, as we move quickly to get back production up to pre Sandy heights and beyond. Fertilizers, seeds, chickens and feed must be given to assist registered farmers. Low interest, no collateral loans must be offered to our farmers, as a matter of urgency. We must ensure that our food supply is adequate; a nation at fifty must feed itself!

NSWMA Vigilance

The NSWMA must be very careful in this time and check and verify every claim made. As in the past the systems have been breached, resulting in that agency
having to pay out millions of dollars, in bogus claims. In one instance, a claim for over $4m, was checked and the so call truck was a private motor car!! I am asking the NSWMA, to be vigilant.

Parish Disaster Areas: Call Out The Army And The Church

Sir I would recommend to the government, that the three parishes most impacted by the storm be declared disaster areas, and the army be brought in to clear all roads, help with the repairs of homes owned by the poorest of the poor, state run homes and schools. They should also be asked to assist with the verification of claims. Our army has built up over the years the capacity and capability, to undertake this task. They have done it before and can do it again. In that regard we must thank our churches and schools, who gave up their space to shelter others, our shelter managers must be commended. Our churches must also be asked to assist in the relief efforts.

JDIP

Mr. President, something else was significant in this storm, in that as bad as we were hit, our infrastructure in the main stood the test of time. We must congratulate former Minister Michael Lester Henry, who conceived of JDIP, and had the fortitude to execute it. We must say a word of thanks to Patrick Wong,
the NWA staff and the many contractors, and workers, who worked on these projects. The JDIP, program has withstood the scrutiny of auditors, the snares of politicians and now the test of nature!! On all accounts it has passed with flying colours. The Fern Gully drainage, Enfield Bridge, the Bull Bay box culverts, the many walls and drains, in Portland and St Mary and the Palisadoes shore road. A good project, a good investment!! Without this improvement in our local infrastructure things could have been worse.

Sir we must also thank the government and people of China, who believed in our vision and had the good sense to invest in it, China Harbour, the main contractors must also be commended.

Sandy’s Impact on Jamaica

Crisis Extent

Mr. President, a word of caution, a lot is being said about the extent of this crisis, but some persons are talking up the disaster, to be more than it is! In fact while only three parishes got a full hit, three more also got hit, we need to settle down and quickly get on with the job of dealing with this limited area, while we run the rest country! This, I hope is not beyond capacity and capability of the current administration!

National Implications

If we continue to try and make worse, the situation than it really is, there are implications for us as a nation going forward. A hurricane does not blow away the structural defects in our economy! No sir it doesn’t, we still have make these hard choices.

Tourism

This storm is also impacting North America, on the eastern seaboard, where over 60% of our tourist comes from or through! They have been hit as well and should someone wishes to have a vacation after their own clean up, we might be taking ourselves out of the market with this talking up de ting! If we are so badly hit, as some are trying to sell, it will drive tourist away from our shores at a time when we need more not less! Who wants to come to vacation in a disaster zone?

Jamaican Remittances

In addition, we must be mindful, that with the Tri state area, being hit, by Hurricane Sandy, some remittance inflows are going to be affected. As persons, begin to repair their own damage, or may have to deal with job losses themselves, as business might be closed up north, we must be somber in our utterances. The days ahead are looking like another crisis, but it can also be an opportunity.

The Golden Rule of Unity

The lesson that must be learnt, Mr. President, is that any crisis we face united as a people we can overcome. In this light therefore, I urge the Minister of Finance, to be brave and be bold, in facing this economic crisis that faces the nation. Mr. Minister, many in your administration, is afraid, cowards, in facing the people, in leveling with us about the true state of what is before us.

Jamaican Economic Storm

We, the people are prepared for that storm as well. We know that the difficulties we face as a nation didn't begin overnight, nor did it begin in Dec 2011. We know that, we the people are prepared for eventualities. What we need is leadership, to guide us though this storm as well. It is the absence of good firm leadership, which is causing the crisis; the stress levels to rise!

Nanny the Leader

If we seek to lead like Nanny, we must know and understand that Nanny never sent her Lieutenants before her, to lead the battle, rather she boldly went up front, repelled the attacks of the enemy, threw back the bullets and bayonets, and led her people, to the Promised Land! Let our leaders be like Nanny, not in words, but in deeds. Go upfront, do not hide!! Explain the battle plan! The strategy and the objectives, build consensus, But most off all, Go before us, Leaders and lead the way thy self!

We Must Lead By Example

Our Leaders are asking us to make sacrifices, yet they are not prepared to make any! They expect us to tighten our belts, bite the bullet, and they haven't told us
why! Our Leaders must level with us, must take us into their confidence. Don't ask us to make sacrifices without discussing the IMF deal with us! Call us together, Opposition, civil society, the press, unions academia , and tell us the truth, tell us where you want to take us, share your vision, ask for our advise and
cooperation, let us guide you! That's people power! If you don’t a Jamaican spring might just be waiting!

Protect the Poor and Vulnerable

Let us together tell what sacrifices we are willing to take in order to protect the poor. The government should not sign any agreement without us knowing that the poor and vulnerable are protected, we have a duty to them. Assistance to the poor should target the needy and not the greedy, as Tanya Stephen sings “ if you do not provide for the poor you wont have enough to protect the rich! Proverty is not a poor people problem! Understand that!!.

IMF Draft Letter Of Intent

So before you sign discuss the IMF draft letter of intent with the public. This crisis took years in coming, but together we can face it. But the only missing element is that of leadership, therefore I urge Dr Phillips, break from the pack, and exhibit the leadership that this time requires! We must be united the state of the nation requires continuity, boldness and honesty. Dr Phillips, it’s time for countryship, not political one upmanship!

JLP Programmes/Policies Implemented

Mr. President, we are here to speak to the state of our homeland, we are in the tenth month of a new Administration, and although it feels like ten years, there are hopeful sparks, within the new government. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Justice, Agriculture, Housing and Information, have in large part continued to implement the programs of the former Administration, to the benefit of our people. I wish to commend these Ministers and to encourage others, to look at the well laid plans, programs and policies, and join the aforementioned, progressive few in the Cabinet. And lest we forget Sir, we serve not for self, but for the glory and benefit of all Jamaicans.

The Robert Mugabe Issue

In light of the above, I am sure Sir, you will permit me to quietly ask either the Minister of Information or Foreign Affairs, what has become of the Mugabe matter? Has the government taken a position? What actions will be taken to restore the name, reputation and pride of Jamaica? That was so viciously attacked, by one who we honored? If in our fiftieth year, our year of jubilee, in the year when our Olympians conquered the world, if we allow that insult against our manhood as a nation to stand, then we are condemned, Mr. President, the government owes it to us as a nation, to take some kind of action, to right this vulgar and unprovoked attack, against this proud and blessed nation. If we allow this to stand, the state of the nation then sir is bad and can only get worse.

National Heroes Need to Be Pardoned

Sir, as we proudly celebrate of fiftieth year as a nation, and our heritage as a people, we must be reminded that some of our National Heroes, do have an entry on their police record and we as a people, if we do nothing else to mark as a legacy to our children, must get a pardon for each and every National Hero, who has activity on their police records. We MUST clear their records!! We have pardoned lesser persons, we must now move, with haste Mr. Minister, of Justice, to right this wrong. This is an urgent national matter, that won't impact the budget, but requires political will, and must be done now. The Opposition urges you to move with dispatch on the matter. If we do not move quickly on this one Mr. President, our state which is already bad will only worse. Sir I am now informed that my colleague Senator Finson has prepared a private member motion to deal with this matter. I congratulate him, and I am anxiously waiting to vote in the affirmative on this as are all my colleagues Senators.

Tertiary Education Crisis

Mr. President another stain on our collective fabric as a nation is the threatened deregistration our some five thousand, (5000), students from tertiary institutions soon. This is because the current government fell asleep on the job and did not make provisions in the last budget, to adequately fund the Students Loan Bureau (SLB). How can we turn our backs on our students? How could the Ministers of Finance and Education, wait so long to recognize this problem and not act long before now? Mr. President education is the poor man’s ladder to success and the ladder of countless Jamaicans, these students, are our daughters, sons nephews and nieces, our neighbors children, we cannot abandon them, not now, not ever! These young bright Jamaica are trying,
working hard to lift themselves, their families and communities, they are committed to lift themselves up, and we must help them. They are not looking for a handout, a let off! No sir they are seeking a loan, to better themselves, and to repay it. They don't want any CDF grant; they are neither beggars nor mendicants! We owe them this opportunity, to make good, to contribute to nation building. I thought this was the topic of the recent retreat. But sadly it was not. It only shows that this administration, this government, is anti poor, heartless and uncaring. The government as a first step, to save poor people's children from being kicked out of university, must fire all their consultants and advisors and put the funds into the SLB! They can do nothing less!

The Poor State of Early Childhood Institutions

Equally, sir the state of our early childhood intuitions is not any better! From reports I have from across the nation, basics schools have fallen off in their registration with the Early Childhood Commission, parents are finding it difficult to pay the contribution to keep the doors open, much less to fulfill the registration requirements. As commendable as the joint program with Food for the Poor, is, to build fifty new basic schools, we must not only build them, we
must furnish and maintain them, plus we must upgrade the others. Some basic and infant schools are begging for a little assistance, yet this uncaring government goes on not one, not two, but three retreats so far, and I am predicting that they will go on at least two more before the year ends, A government of retreats, a government in retreat. A one term government!

Ministry of Education, cannot account for $40m, from a World Bank program?

Mr. President, while our students are in danger of being kicked out of college, our basic schools are almost ready to be closed, the Ministry of Education, cannot account for $40m, from a World bank program, to train our principals.

We Mr. President, this Senate, can do nothing less to demand, in the name of poor people’s children, what has happen to this money? We must remove political interference from this process and allow the hard working professional civil servants, at the Ministry to get on with the job at hand. The questions of this World Bank, program will have serious implications, for the country’s medium term program with the IMF. So you see Mr. President, the state of the nation is bad and getting worse.

Student CXC Assistance

Our students Mr. President are preparing to pay for CXC just about now, but the little assistance that used to be had in helping poor children to pay for exams
have been removed. Why don't we simply ask the schools to recommend those that are in need? And help those? But just to cut off everything is neither fair nor just!

The Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP)

Yes sir, and as this uncaring government, turns its back on our young people the future of this nation, if their parent(s), wish to get a commercial loan, to help
them, many can't, why sir, because, of the approximately 800,000 parcels, of land in Jamaica, only 54%, has a title, and although the Patterson administration, introduced the LAMP program, a major dent was never made to the situation. We must commend the Patterson administration, for this far reach and revolutionary programme; many poor people have received land titles through this facility. Equally, we thank and congratulate the hard working staff at LAMP, for all they are doing, with limited resources. The Golding administration, to its credit, built upon what it found, brought in the private sector and overseas partners, to expand this program. The South Koreans, were asked, to lend their expertise, and assist with surveying and other technology, they agreed and along with Geoland, a Jamaica firm, a new phase of LAMP was born LAMP 2, We realized that with all that poor people were still having difficulties, showing the root of title, that is how the untitled land got into their possession up to thirty years ago.

Land Administration for National Development (LAND)

We then aggressively along with the People's Cooperative Banks dusted off another bit of legislation, piloted by His Excellency Norman Manley, the Facilities
for Titles Act, and used it as a basis for starting the LAND project,(Land Administration For National Development), and coincidently, launched it in the current Minister of lands, constituency in Juan de bolas. We also negotiated a grant not a loan from the Koreans to move the program along, that was granted and should be dispersed, under a new agreement that should have been signed, when the original agreement ended. This was in May of 2012.

Triple Play legislation Delayed

But Mr. President, nothing is forth coming, because for the programme, to have the impact that PM Patterson, envisioned, three pieces of legislation must be
amended:
1. The registration act,
2. The facilities for titles act and
3. The land valuation act.

These amendments have not been done, although work was well advanced, when we left office.( The Minister visited South Korea, and apart from eating his belly full and buying a couple scarf’s nothing has happened) with regards to advancing the next phase of the program.

Action Needed Now to Prevent Grant Loss

We are dangerously close to losing the grant. This grant is to be used to assist persons in land settlements and informal areas to get title. The minister must realize that no rich or wealthy people live in these areas, and this program can make the poor of today the wealthy of tomorrow. The Minister must arise from his slumber and do some work. It was said by a very wise man once, that we must have our names written in two books during our lifetime, the book of life, and the register of titles.

Nothing lifts a poor family and gives hope better than a title, a title to their own piece of Jamaica, ticket to prosperity and an escape from poverty. We can
begin to eradicate poverty, if our Ministers do their work.

14,000 title Backlog

Equally married to this programme, was a concerted effort to hand out the over 14,000, titles that are in the Ministry of housing, titles of persons who have completed their obligations, and await title some dating back to the nineteen forty’s . This government must make available to the Parish councils the necessary funds so the infrastructure can be brought up to standard so that the law can be satisfied and the people can get their titles. This is an investment, as the increase in property taxes over time will give an adequate return. This will also increase funding to the parish councils, thus allowing them to be free from the arms of central government. Some of the $3.4b what was taken by this government from the JDIP program to go into JEEP, must be must to improve the roads and drains in these areas. The Councils, be given more not less, if we are to solve this problem.

Local Government Reform Concerns

Mr. President, like you, I too was shocked, when my good friend Senator Skeffery tabled a resolution, seeking answers about local government reform. I too draft a similar resolution and must commend the goodly Senator, for putting this matter front and centre, although the current Minister is a Vice President of his
Party, I am praying for the young Senator, and I know that speaking publicly about it now, it will give the Senator some level of protection, in fulfilling is ambitions later on. I know that it will be denied and wagons will be circled, but the Senator and I also saw where a PNP Councillor and also the Mayor of Falmouth, are likewise, wondering what has happened to the agreed program of local government reform.

National Advisory Committee

This program is a program of agreed steps that came out of wide ranging consultations, across the country, led by the Minister then and PM today. A National Advisory Committee was formed and chaired by the late Prof Rex Nettleford. It comprised of all the political parties, unions, councillors, civil society, the universities and other stakeholders.

Recommendations Drafted and Accepted

A set of recommendations were drafted and accepted, some were implemented by the then government and the Golding Administration, in order to complete the program set a two year time line to have all the recommendations implemented. While significant progress was achieved the timeline was not one of them. But we all need to understand that local government reform is not a product but rather a process.

Local Government Reform Unit

Mr. President allows me to commend and say thanks to Messrs. Keith Miller and Clive Edwards, for their continued work in spearheading and moving forward
the Local Government Reform unit.

Mayor Bertel Moore

Let me also congratulate Mayor Bertel Moore of Savana-la-Mar, for the recent National Honour bestowed on him for his many years of service at the local level. The problem is, not the good people, are lacking.

Local Government Reform Communication Poor

But what is lacking now is the free and full flow of information on the status of the program, I thought it was the Opposition that was in the dark, but the good Senator , Mayor and councillor, proved that they too, all from the same Party, is also asking for information! What is happening with this government? Too much
mixed signals!

Review of the Portmore Municipality

What has become of the Review of the Portmore Municipality? What of the Building Code? And the New Building Act? What's the situation with regards to the Vision Statements and development plans for each parish? What of the parish council reform committees? In addition sir, what of the Equalization Fund? What of the unsettled matter of the councillors who cannot be seated in Portmore? Where is the Amendment to the Municipal charter? Mr. President the Portmore Mayor is not a councillor but on his shoulders lay the responsibility of everything, we need to grant him separate funds to be used at his discretion, to respond to the needs of his people. Resources must be found to give him to actively discharge his duties.

Local Government Concerns

Parish Council Resources

Councils must be given more not less resources. What is the situation with the promises that we're made in this Senate amount increased resources, for the
child recovery system, the Ananda Alert. How much and what has changed? Or is it just talk, talk and more talk? A review of the decision, to transfer the Secretary/Manager, from May Pen to Lucea.

But Mr. President, let it be clearly stated that within the parish council system we have some of the hardest working civil servants in the country. They do operate
with limited resources but give yeoman service. It is therefore shocking surprising even when hardworking officers are transferred indiscriminately. All positions Mr. President are transferable, that is not in question, but can you imagine my shock, when I saw councillors from both Parties seeking the review of a decision, to transfer a Secretary/Manager. Sir, that is not unusual as councillors tend to want to hold on to what is good, but must remember, that if they have a good person nothing is wrong if that person goes elsewhere is help impart knowledge. But, like the Councillors in Clarendon, I too must ask for a review of the decision, to transfer the Secretary/Manager, from May Pen to Lucea. While the letter of the law allows it, the spirit doesn't. Sir, why are we treating a female public servant who has given nothing but sterling service in this fashion? It is unjust, here is a woman with a sick mother and a young child being asked to move house across the country? This at a time when we have a woman Prime Minister?

Mercy Mr. President it is a vital part of leadership. This again shows the callous nature of this government. The arrogance, the uncaring attitude, I have the
power so I will do as please. How can we destroy a family like this?

I am making an appeal to the Governor General, to intervene.

When I discharged those responsibilities, I too had to suffer transfers of staff, I saw it, but could not do anything, as these are done by a Commission appointed by the Governor General, on the recommendation of the Minister. This same excellent officer, is one of the best officers in the system, and was accused of being a member of the PNP, then, yet today she is being accused of being a member of the JLP! All because she dares to do her job.

Who is related to the Minister? Conflict?

Sir what again, is strange about this case is that there are allegations that the current Chairman of the Commission, is a relative by law of the Minister!
If this is so, is it a clear case of conflict of interest? A matter of corruption?

Nepotism? Mr. President I ask that you ask the Senate Leader, to investigate and report this. Being a relative does not necessarily disqualify one, but in a delicate matter, that affects workers lives, all such conflicts must be eliminated. Natural justice demands it this.

It does not look good and I ask that the PM, intervenes and ask the Commission to review this matter, on humanitarian grounds, this government cannot be so
uncaring and arrogant! They are losing the public's trust; this is a one term government. Yes one term! The state of the nation sir is bad and if this not corrected it is getting worse. Furthermore, it is said that the Minister is a Relative of the PM! He therefore, should exercise more care, his has a moral obligation to protect the PM. He, more than any one should not embarrass the PM like this.

Pay cut for civil servants

We cannot treat our civil servants like this, we need to show more respect to our civil servants. We have asked them to take wage freezes, and now we are going to ask them to take a pay cut, as they will be soon required to contribute to their pensions, the lest we can do is show some respect! We just threaten them with transfers and or job cuts, that is an abuse of power, putting our workers under stress and after you give your all in the service of your fellow citizens you use your relative to victimize them? This is unjust. Cold, callous, uncaring.

The Promise Of Street Lights

Mr. President, where is the streetlights, that were promised in the thousands during the local government polls, in March? What has become of the safe community program that was being done in association, with UNDP? Crime is up, people are fearful, and the streetlights are not working. The government needs to pay JPS, so that they can fix the streetlights. Lights have been out for months now. How do we expect our women to feel safe walking home from
church? Or school? The street lights need to be repaired. And new lights given out. The last Administration, was castigated, cursed and abused, ridiculed even, when we couldn't put any new lights, because of the recession. Well where are the new lights?

Solar Street Lights?

Mr. President, the Government of Jamaica signed a MoU, with a US based company known as Green RG,to provide solar solutions, within the local government system, including streetlights. This was in July 2011, the new government re signed the agreement, early in the new year, with a lot of talk.

What has become of the MoU? Where are the lights and the solutions? What is the status with the MoU? A plant was to be built to manufacture LED lights, how far along are we, with this project?

Fire Brigade Service

Mr. President, our fire service, is rated as one of the best in the world. The men and women within the Brigade are Jamaica's bravest. They put their lives on the
line daily. They work under trying circumstances, but still come out to work every day, and give 100%. We must congratulate them, and let them know that a grateful nation, appreciate their service.

But, as a one of the uniformed groups in the country, we have treated them the worst, they have no parity in their earnings with other sector groups, although it
was promised. The major staff shortage, within the system, due to low pay and retirement is having an adverse reaction on the fire personnel. Long overtime shifts, is contributing to a heightened stress level! Coupled with major shortages in equipment; Sir, the Brigade, urgently needs an infusion of two batches of trainees. This was budgeted for, Mr. President, but what has happened? Yet I note that the government has advertised for prison warders. Is it that the government, is preparing to put more of their members in prison? Why no new fire Brigade trainees? At the rate we are going, a call to the fire Brigade will not
be answered, trucks will be available but no firemen will be available. What has happen to the MOU that was to be signed between the JFB and the Maritime
Institute? Is it being actioned? What has happened to the community firefighter’s volunteer program? Where citizens are too trained, to properly assist? Have we abandoned all these? That Mr. President is the state of our nation, bad and getting worse.

Lack of equipment

Our firefighters were the first responders, in the storm, yet they were not equipped with basic stuff like flashlights, as was recently highlighted in a news paper article. Shame…Shame Mr. Minister Shame! If the Minister releases one just one of his consultants and advisers, flashlight and batteries could be bought. As
a matter of fact one of the advisors resigned less than three months on the job, when he found that there was nothing for him to do, what a patriotic Jamaican!
Why don’t we use the money budgeted for his salary to buy flashlights for our hardworking firefighters?

Local Government Reaction to Sandy

Just as bad was the reaction to the storm. The Minister was slow in moving, Mr. President most of our Mayors are new on the job, this would be their first major
disaster yet the funds to staff and run the Emergency Operations Centre(EOC) was late in reaching them, when was the training before hand? The government response was slow in coming. Even up to today, the recovery is being hampered. During the budget funds were allocated for drain cleaning, why wasn't it not released to the parish councils, in a timely manner, before?

Why all of a sudden drains are being cleaned in the middle of the storm? Where was this money spent? In which parish? In which constituency? The parish councils if they were given the funds, on a timely basis could have done a better job.

Getting little things right

Minister, it's the little things, yes the little things, if we can't get them right, we won't get the big thing right. I hope somebody gets it.

National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA)

I must congratulate Miss Jennifer Edwards on her appointment, as well as the new Board. They have sort to continue the good work of the former administration, I would expected nothing less of Mr. Steve Ashley. I must also thank the last Board and the former Executive Director, Mrs. Gordon-Webley, for
her leadership of the Agency, during trying times, but all will agree that Jamaica was a lot cleaner, during her time!

What has happen to the waste to energy project? Where are the transfer stations? Are they in service Mr. President? What has changed the plans to utilize
them, after millions of dollars were spent to acquire and retrofit them? Why are they not being used? Not using them drives up the cost of garbage collection in
Westmoreland and damages the health of the people of St Thomas.

We also need to cover the landfills in Browns town, Monegaue, Martin Hill and Doctors Wood. There was a recent report tabled in this Senate from NEPA and
certain recommendations, we're made and they were accepted by the government. What has happen to them? How far along are we? In implementing them?

Dengue Outbreak

It is just like how the dengue epidemic is being treated. First you deny, then you dodge, then you admit, when you have no other choice, and the response is slow and weak. Mr. President, I heard a news report that $25m, was allocated island wide for drain cleaning. Can you imagine? $25m! For the whole island?
Two drains in Portmore could use that. I'm sure the city of Kingston alone could use that. The cost treating the dengue is much more than that. Since the storm,
an addition $110m, has been allocated, that’s still not enough! Sir I'm asking that the National Health fund releases $250m, immediately to the Parish Councils, so that a comprehensive draining cleaning, and breeding site reduction program, can be done.

The Tiki Tiki, Program: the Mayor’s Lack of Knowledge

The tiki tiki, program that was started by the release of 10,000' fingerlings, in Waterford, was to be followed by the release of an additional 30,000, was suspended. The Fisheries dept have the fingerlings, but some how we are allowing the people, the babies of Portmore to be eaten alive by Mosquitoes. There is a believe, by non technical people, politician even, that tiki tiki can survive in arid conditions, in sewage waters, what nonsense! Stupid! In the Far East, you are required to put tiki tiki, in all standing waters, including sewage ponds, means to reducing the mosquito population! Initially they imported the tiki tiki from you know where Mr. President? Jamaica!

This species of fish, survives under extreme conditions, and when the streams are flooded, and they are washed to sea, the return, Mr. President, they do return. If information is required on the matter Mayor Lee, go ask the technical people, at the Fisheries department, and stop embarrassing yourself in public!
Now more than ever more funds must be made available to communities for mosquito eradication. There will be an increase in the mosquito population. Fogging alone, doesn't work it has to be an intergraded program.

Do not fire the Minister!!

All is not lost with the Minister of Local Government, however, and although the PM is tempted to move him in December, when the Cabinet is shuffled, just after the supplementary budget, I urge her to leave him, in place. Within the local government fraternity, we can reform him! Leave him to us madam PM, we
begging for him, although his performance is not up to par, give him a chance please. “du” madam, give him a chance please!!

Our Infirmaries

Mr. President what has happened to our infirmaries, and the Golden Age Home, improvement works were in train for many of them. What has suddenly happen? These institutions house the poorest of the poor. Our treatment of the residents is a reflection of us as a society. We must care for them do the best for them! Best the more you do for the least amongst you do unto me said the Lord. What has happen to the new ward in Hanover? What has happen to the back yard garden program? The improvement works at the Golden Age home? The training for Matrons and staff? What has happen to those on the Pauper Roll? The last survey by the Board of Supervision showed that they wanted $60m, to repair all Indigents houses in Jamaica, repair Sir, not rebuild!

New SUVs vs. Indigent housing

All the new consultants and advisors collective salaries is more than this, plus the government just bought 12 brand new luxury SUVs. You know how much money that, Mr. President? And I am sure they never gave you one! Who have been assigned these vehicles? How much was spent, to purchase them? How many new SUVs have been bought since January 2012, in total? in a time when we are struggling, to do basic things we find money to for Ministers comfort, luxury items, while the poor suffer daily!! if that money was put into the Self Start Fund or MIDA, you know how much small and medium size businesses would benefit? Do you know how many jobs would be created? This is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Sell the SUVs

We can find money to do these things but can't find any to care for the poor? What better way to lead, to show compassion than to sell the high priced vehicles and donate the money to the poor! I challenge this government, that glibly talk about the poor, to do something about the poor, stop the talk about love for the poor, do something for them. Faith without works is nothing! It is in Mathew that we are told that those who go into the streets and give alms, and speak about their good work, have received their reward already! Let us not talk about being Christian, let us show, and demonstrate Christian love! This government is uncaring, wicked and uncharitable! One term government! That Mr. President is the plain truth. These are the little things that must be done.

The Government’s Leadership Crisis

Mr. President, if the government does not quickly pull up their collective socks, Oct 24th and Hurricane Sandy will not be the only Disaster, Jamaica, would face
but we would have had one on December 29th 2011 as well. We can and will recover from Hurricane Sandy, but can we recover from the other? I say a resounding yes, but we must collectively ensure that our sacrifices are not wasted. We demand leadership which is now absent. Present in body but not in mind is not good enough! Making a few staged speeches is not good enough, they can start with an apology to the people with regards to the false promises
that we're made during the elections. Mr. President, I want Jamaica to succeed, I want Jamaica to grow, we have problems, historic in nature, but very real in the present. If our leaders don't show the mettle of good leadership, they will lose the trust of the people, which already has started, arrogance won't do it,
lies, sweet talk and promises won't do, if they don't level with the people they are going to be a one term government.

People are fast losing hope sir fast losing hope. Challenges there are but the land is green the sun shineth and the people are strong! I am betting on Jamaica, Mr. President, I am betting on Jamaica. Do not write us off, because we know “ that under God we will increase in beauty fellowship and prosperity and play her part in advancing the whole human race!”.

God bless you Mr. President and may God Bless Jamaica.

 

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