The Most Honourable Edward Philip George Seaga, O.N. P.C., M.P., LL.D. (Hon.), former Prime Minister, 1980-89, Leader of the Opposition between 1989 and 2006, was born on May 28, 1930 to the late Philip George Seaga and Erna (nee Maxwell). He was educated at Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Jamaica and graduated from Harvard University in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in the Social Sciences.
Mr. Seaga’s political career began in 1959 when Sir Alexander Bustamante, the founder of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), nominated him to serve in the Upper House of the Jamaica Legislature, the Legislative Council (later the Senate). His appointment at age 29 made him the youngest member ever appointed to the Legislative Council, which established the framework for national independence in August 1962.
In April, 1962, Mr. Seaga was elected Member of Parliament for Western Kingston . He has held that seat for 40 consecutive years. Mr. Seaga is now the longest serving Member of Parliament in the history of Jamaica . He is the only person elected as Member of Parliament for West Kingston for more than one term.
Immediately after winning his seat in 1962, Mr. Seaga was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Development and Welfare. Following the 1967 General Elections he was appointed Minister of Finance and Planning and in 1974 he became Leader of the JLP and the Parliamentary Opposition until the 1980 General Elections.
Edward P.G. Seaga became Prime Minister of Jamaica following the General Elections of October 30, 1980 when the Jamaica Labour Party won a landslide victory over the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP). The mandate of Mr. Seaga and the Jamaica Labour Party was renewed in the uncontested 1983 General Elections. He remained Prime Minister until February 1989.
Mr. Seaga was also Minister of Finance and Planning, and his portfolio included responsibilities for Information and Culture.
Mr. Seaga was one of the founding fathers of the Jamaican Constitution and has spear-headed far-reaching reforms of the Constitution since then.
Several economic and social programmes, which have had significant impact on Jamaica’s growth and development, were conceived and initiated by Mr. Seaga.
Mr. Seaga has established, encouraged, promoted or introduced several institutions, which have contributed to the modernization and development of the financial sector. These include the Jamaica Stock Exchange (1969), Jamaica Unit Trust (1970), Jamaica Mortgage Bank (1973), National Development Bank (1981), the Agricultural Credit Bank (1981), the Ex-Im Bank (1986), and the Students’ Loan Bureau. The Self-Start Fund (1984) was established by him to provide loans to micro-businesses.
He promoted the modernization of commercial agriculture by introducing high technology and stimulating agricultural enterprise in new crops. In 1988 he launched a programme to plant 1 million trees. He put unused and under-used publicly-owned lands to work. The highly successful Jamaica National Investment Promotion Ltd, JNIP (now JAMPRO) was created by him in 1981 as a one-stop investment organisation to promote local and overseas investment in Jamaica .