SOURCE: CMC – Prime Minister Andrew Holness is promising that the issue of the country’s future constitutional status will be addressed shortly even as he warned that “there must not be empty symbolism” moving forward.
In recent days, Jamaicans have raised the issue of the island replacing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the head of state and following Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries like Barbados, Guyana, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Barbados sworn in Dame Sandra Mason as the island’s head of state on November 30.
Former prime minister, PJ Patterson, has said the removal of the Queen as the head of state cannot wait on a full review of the constitution.
Patterson, 86, who served as the island’s prime minister from 1992 to 2006, has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding urging them to swiftly begin the process for removal of the queen as Jamaica prepares to celebrate its 60th year of independence.
But addressing the official opening of Ocean Eden Bay Hotel in Trelawny, north west of here on Thursday evening, Holness said the fact that as Jamaica approaches its 60th year of independence, there has been a lot of discussion on the issue, promising that the questions raised would be addressed shortly.
However, Prime Minister Holness said he would like to see Jamaica accomplish certain things before taking the step to replace the Queen.
“The nation is as the nation does, and there are some people who want to speak prosperity into being, speak sovereignty and independence into being. My philosophy is that we must do these things into being. We must make them happen.
“There must not be empty symbolism. It must be genuine. It is what we are in our actions and in our achievements and what we have done. So, I am building towards the aspiration,” Holness said.
“So having said what I have said in very vague terms, but I am certain those who have ears to hear those vague terms will understand until it is time for us to have that …direct discourse which that process has started.”
Patterson said he also believes a referendum on the removal of the Queen as head of state would be successful if supported by both the government and opposition.
He said he would be happy if the legislative work to have that done could be completed before Independence Day next year.
In his address, Prime Minister Holness made a call for an entertainment institute funded by tourism, to be established here.
“We need to see an institute that is going to train persons in entertainment and culture …so that our local people who are naturally talented, naturally gifted can be exposed to a wide variety of other forms…of entrainment that they themselves can become professionals in and I think the tourism industry could give Jamaica this as a gift for our 60th year,” Holness added.
He told the ceremony that the island remains favourable for foreign direct investment (FDI), despite the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and that his administration continues to create a positive and resilient fiscal environment, which has been reaffirmed by international rating agencies.
“It is not just the environmental assets that attract you [to the island], Jamaica is a very stable democracy. In addition to that, Jamaica has a very resilient economy with all that has happened around the world.
“We see debt increasing, particularly in small island developing states (SIDS), especially within the Caribbean, and we see other signs of economic instability creeping in, but Jamaica’s economic performance has been very stable,” Holness said, adding “while others [countries] have been revised and downgraded, Jamaica’s rating has been reaffirmed and that is also another reason why investors are looking to Jamaica”.
Prime Minister Holness noted that the government is working to significantly improve ease of doing business and the efficiency of the public bureaucracy, which will create an environment that facilitates greater investment opportunities.
“When you put all of those together, Jamaica would be uncontested in the region as a place where you have a commercial footprint and investment,.”
Holness said that the opening of the adult-only all-inclusive Ocean Eden Bay hotel represents an expression of confidence in the country and its good governance and that the property is strategically located to benefit from “Jamaica’s salubrious environment” being nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the “glorious verdant green mountains”.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in his remarks, noted that hotel investments are critical to Jamaica’s economic development
“They generate billions of direct and indirect revenues for Jamaica and employ thousands of workers and in this instance, nearly 800 workers are benefiting from this opening and the expansion of the H10 facilities here in Trelawny. Of course, the guests that come, their spending pumps millions into the local economies and communities where the properties are located,” he said.
Director, International Division, H 10 Hotels, Antonio Hernandez, said that Jamaica remains a leading tourism destination.
“I believe that this property and ceremony is witness of our strong confidence in Jamaica as an investment-friendly country and as a successful top tourist destination,” he noted.
Ocean Eden Bay is an addition to Ocean Coral Spring, owned and operated by the Spanish Hotel chain, H10 Hotels.