GROW-JLP-Website-Banner-2014.jpg
Stand-JLP-Website-Banner-2014.jpg
Build-JLP-Website-Banner-2016.jpg

Tribute to the Most Hon Edward P.G. Seaga, ON, PC, former Prime Minister of Jamaica by Mr. Audley Shaw

Release Date: 
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 16:15

TRIBUTE TO THE MOST HONOURABLE EDWARD SEAGA
BY AUDLEY SHAW, MP
ON THE OCCASION OF JAMAICA’S 50TH YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE
AT A SPECIAL JOINT SITTING OF PARLIAMENT
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2012

Mr Speaker, it is an honour for me to participate in today’s tribute to the Most Honourable Edward Seaga. I congratulate the Government and this Parliament for this initiative as it is a fitting tribute appropriately being done as we celebrate 50 years of Independence.

Mr Speaker, at the outset I can boldly state without any fear of contradiction that, with the exception of our Founding Fathers, Edward Seaga has had the most profound and multifaceted impact on Jamaica's social, cultural and economic life than any other politician in Jamaica.

In my brief Tribute, I will concentrate on his contribution to the economic development of Jamaica in his capacity as Minister of Finance spanning two periods, 1967-1972 and 1980-1989. During the latter period he of course also served as Prime Minister.

Edward Seaga's tenure as Finance and Planning Minister was grounded in Pragmatism. A list of the Development and Financial Institutions he established can tell the story far better than I can:

HIGHLIGHTS OF ACHIEVEMENTS

o Relocated the Sea Port operations from downtown Kingston to Newport East and
West - Port Bustamante
o Started the development of Portmore and Hellshire area
o Spearheaded the development of Ocho Rios and Negril and reclaimed the Montego Bay Waterfront

o Established the JAMAICA STOCK EXCHANGE
o URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
o JAMAICA DEVELOPMENT BANK
o NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT BANK
o AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT BANK
o JAMAICA UNIT TRUST
o EXPORT/IMPORT BANK (EX-IM Bank)
o STUDENT REVOLVING LOAN FUND (Later to become the SLB)
o JAMAICA MORTGAGE BANK
o SELF-START FUND
o SOLIDARITY PROGRAMME
o H.E.A.R.T. PROGRAMME
o FOOD STAMP PROGRAMME
o JAMAICA RACING COMMISSION
o JAMAICA NATIONAL INVESTMENT PROMOTION (JNIP, later JAMPRO)

In addition, other major policy initiatives can be credited to Mr Seaga:

o THE JAMAICANIZATION OF THE FINANCIAL SECTOR, ESPECIALLY THE INSURANCE AND BANKING SECTORS

o THE DECIMALIZATION OF THE JAMAICAN CURRENCY (conversion from pound, shilling and pence  to dollars and cents)

o INTRODUCED MERCHANT BANKING

o CARRIED OUT COMPREHENSIVE TAX REFORM IN 1986

o PILOTED THE CONTRACTOR GENERAL ACT IN PARLIAMENT

o PRIVATIZED NCB BY PUBLIC SHARE ISSUANCE

o STARTED THE MEDIA DIVESTMENT PROGRAMME

From the highlights that I have noted it must be recognized that in the period 1967-1972, Mr. Seaga presided over a phenomenal transformation of the economy with the introduction of new projects and the building of new institutions at a dizzying pace.

Equally, in the 1980's, the establishment of an aggressive investment promotion programme was of fundamental importance to economic recovery after Jamaica had just emerged from an unprecedented period of economic decline (declining by over 20 percent between 1974 and 1980).

When the institutions mentioned are combined with the many others that were created by Edward Seaga in the social and cultural field, we can safely assert that he has created and built more institutions than any other leader in the Caribbean.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Mr. Speaker, Edward Seaga was a member of the Cabinet that achieved average annual growth of 6 percent in the first ten years of Independent Jamaica. He served Jamaica as Finance Minister for a total of 13 years spanning two periods. During this period, for 11 out of the 13 years, annual average growth rates were 4.1 percent, with growth of 11.9 percent recorded in 1970, and 8.0 percent in 1987 - the two highest growth figures recorded in Jamaica's history since Independence. These are growth figures only associated today with China, India and a few other countries.

In 1981, Edward Seaga was the first foreign Head of State to be invited to visit the then new President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, which led to Reagan's subsequent visit to Jamaica and the establishment by the US Government, of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) which opened up duty free access, not only for Jamaica, but for the entire Caribbean exports to the United States.

This was the first and only official visit of a sitting US President to Jamaica and it happened under Edward Seaga's watch.

Edward Seaga believed that the private sector must be the engine of growth in a market economy, and he advanced policies to achieve this objective.

He also believed that Government has a role to play in facilitating private sector investment, which is why he established JNIP/JAMPRO in the 1980's and which led to the revival of the Apparel Industry, Tourism, Non traditional Agriculture and Furniture manufacturing as well as the introduction of Business Process Outsourcing to Jamaica.

These strategies, combined with prudent macro-economic management, led to a return to healthy growth levels in the latter half of the 1980's with average annual growth of 6.0 percent recorded between 1986 and 1990. The exchange rate was stable, inflation was low, and a fiscal surplus was achieved in the latter part of the 1980's.

Mr Speaker, Mr Seaga's effective leadership and stewardship were best summarized by the late Professor Carl Stone when he said:

"his leadership works from problems back to solutions and concentrates on getting things done..........it is short on popularity but tall on policy achievements and policy results............In this mould is cast Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Eddie Seaga in Jamaica. We don't fall in love with them, we just know they will get the job done."

Mr Speaker, today we salute and honour the Most Honourable Edward Phillip George Seaga as a leader who had vision, fixity of purpose and the courage of his conviction to get the job done. Jamaica is a better place as a result of his lifetime commitment to the social and economic upliftment of Jamaicans.

May his service be an example and an inspiration to those of us in politics and governance today and in the future.

May God richly bless him and his family in his retirement from politics.

Audley Shaw, MP
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

 

Featured Video - JLP Rally Sam Sharpe Square 2016

JLP MANIFESTO 2016 (PDF)