Privilege of a lifetime to serve Jamaicans, says Simpson Miller
Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, told the House of Representatives on Thursday that she is proud of being Jamaica’s first, and only, female prime minister.
“When I consider 43 years in representational politics, I am humbled that I have had the opportunity to serve the people of Jamaica whom I love so much,” Simpson Miller said as she made her contribution to the 2017/18 budget debate in the House.
She also welcomed the fact that the wife of current Prime Minister Andrew Holness also sits in Parliament.
Turning to the issue of what she wants for Jamaica, Simpson Miller said: “As we look to the future, I am of the view that the intellect, creativity and expression of the Jamaican people hold the key to economic growth and wealth creation.
“I have always believed in people. I have seen first-hand how our people can rise from poverty and obscurity to greatness. Just look at our stellar achievements in sports, academia, science and technology, culture and music.
“These attributes must be nurtured and developed into high-value, globally competitive niche products and services that will marvel the world.
“It is the duty of government to continue to create an enabling environment that supports self-reliance, entrepreneurship, wealth creation, and genuine prosperity. We must find new ways to unleash the culturally inspired creativity and innovation of the Jamaican people.
“This must be the basis and the platform for sustained wealth creation that benefits all our people,” she said.
Simpson Miller said that she had set out to fulfil national hero Norman Manley’s vision for the “next generation”, which was to achieve “economic and social independence”.
“Mr Speaker, colleague Parliamentarians, it has been a privilege of a lifetime to serve the people of Jamaica.
“The love and laughter of the children have energised me beyond measure. The humility and gratitude of the elderly have warmed my soul. The energy and possibilities of our young people have given me joy and hope.
“Above all, even through the tears and regrets, I have seen nothing but good in the people of Jamaica. They are resilient and strong. For me, it has been a lifelong love affair. We have had our ups and downs, but our love is strong and will endure forever.
“Jamaica and our people have a special place in the deep recesses of my heart and it is my dream that I will be around to see that day when our people have full economic and social independence. May God bless you, and may God bless Jamaica land we love,” she added.
The People’s National Party (PNP) has scheduled a special delegates’ conference to select a replacement to her as party president on March 26, 2017.
Simpson Miller is expected to demit office as Opposition leader on April 2, however, the 71-year-old will continue as member of Parliament for St Andrew South Western, which she has represented for 34 of the past 40 years.
She was not MP for the six years of the Edward Seaga-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) 1980-1989 Administration, while the PNP boycotted the Parliament.
Former Finance Minister Peter Phillips is expected to be elected Opposition and PNP leader, replacing Simpson Miller.