Warmington likely new Leader of Gov't Business in the House

Inside Parliament

With Balford Henry

Sunday, January 14, 2018



With an announcement of the resignation of Leader of the House of Representatives, Derrick Smith, likely this week, much attention will obviously be focused on his likely successor, Everald Warmington (Member St Catherine South West).

Warmington has been preparing himself for the job over the past few months, acting in the absence of Smith who has spent several weeks of his current term of office being treated in the United States for his illness.

One thing that is certain about Warmington is that he knows the Standing Orders, probably better than any member of the House that I have seen in over 30 years covering Gordon House. And he is capable of keeping the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition Business on their toes when it comes to these issues.

It is obvious that he has a temper that needs to be controlled some of the time, but Warmington, a Mechanics Lodge Grandmaster, has the tolerance and insight to lead the House and should do a good job if he becomes leader.

However, like the Leader of the House of Commons, the Leader of the House of Representatives is generally a member of the Cabinet responsible for arranging the business of the House.

That would leave Warmington out of the reckoning. But, the fact is the current Leader of the House of Commons in Britain, Andrea Leadsome, is not a member of Theresa May's Cabinet, sets a precedent for the Westminster model.

The office does not attract a ministerial salary, in which case the holder should also have a ministerial position. And it is very unlikely that over-burdened Prime Minister Andrew Holness would want to become Leader of the House, which was the case historically in the House of Commons.

So, it is quite likely that the Government will settle on Warmington to lead the House, unless he turns down the job.

Incidentally, if and when Smith retires from Parliament, he will do so as an MP who has never lost an election.

Of course, he was elected during a general election in 1983 which was boycotted by the People's National Party, and all he had to do was to roll over little-known locksmith V G Smith (Republican Party).

But, by 1989 he moved to St Andrew North Western and won that seat seven times since, and is now preparing to leave the House having never lost an election, just like recent retirees former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and former Cabinet Minister Dr Omar Davies.

When Smith leaves the House, it will also create a vacancy in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

The question is, will the prime minister use the opportunity to shake up his Cabinet and make a few changes?

PAC, PAAC meet this week

Incidentally, there was no indication up to Friday that Parliament will resume this week, after the Christmas/New Year break.

The schedule provided by Gordon House shows two committees meeting this week — the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Administration and Appropriation Committee (PAAC).

The PAC is now chaired by former senator and Opposition spokesman on finance, Mark Golding, who now represents Dr Davies' former stronghold of St Andrew Southern. It sits on Tuesday morning at 10:00 and will be looking at the performance of the new mega ministry — Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation — which sits at Jamaica House under the careful watch of Prime Minister Holness and the OPM staff.

The PAC reviews the reports tabled in the House of Representatives by the auditor general.

The PAAC, which in recent times has taken on many more oversight duties than the PAC, will meet on Wednesday, January 17, at 10:00, under the chairmanship of Opposition MP Dr Wykeham McNeill.

It will be looking at the performance of the following ministries: national security; local government and community development; economic growth and job Creation, and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

ECJ launches political party registration on Monday.

Party registration

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips are scheduled to attend the official launch of Political Parties Registration at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, tomorrow.

On January 2, the ECJ commenced the registration of political parties. The Political Party Registration Act, 2014 mandates the registration of political parties in Jamaica and the monitoring of their finances. With the enactment of the legislation, political parties intending to contest the polls in elections and referenda must be registered with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

Persons wishing to contest elections, who are not members of registered political parties, can still do so as independent candidates. Additionally, political parties will be mandated by law to make statutory reports on their financial standing at the end of each financial year.

Political parties who have completed the application process will be presented with Provisional Certificates of Registration at the launch.

Auditor General presents Strategic Business Plan for 2018-2021

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis, recently tabled the Auditor General's Department's (AuGD) Strategic Business Plan for financial years 2018-2021.

Monroe Ellis in her executive summary, noted that:

“The Auditor General's Department, in determining its strategic direction for the next three years, will be seeking to continue its contribution to Jamaica's National Development Plan 2030, Goal 3 and National Outcome 6, 'Effective Governance', as defined under outcome 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3.”

She pointed out that the team at the AuGD is committed to continually improving the department in terms of enhancing the impact of the audits and reinforcing the professionalism of its staff, in that context.

Monroe Ellis commissioned an independent, external assessment of the AuGD in 2017, supported by the Inter-American Development Bank with grant funding for the initiative.

The assessment was undertaken by a team of international experts using the Supreme Audit Institution Performance Measurement Framework (SAI PMF).

The auditor general said she was pleased the team concluded that the AuGD had strong management and governance structures, “and that its work is of a high professional standard”.

The review did, however, identify important developmental issues that the AuGD needs to address, and for which the team made a range of recommendations.

“Accordingly, in developing our strategic business plan for the period 2018 to 2021, we have sought to build on the strengths identified by the SAI PMF review, and to put in place a series of actions to address the weaknesses identified,” she added.

Monroe Ellis pointed out that while, to date, most of the AuGD's performance audits have been single-entity based, in the next years the AuGD plans to extend its performance audits to cover “more crossing-cutting issues”.

She said the AuGD would continue to use the risk-based approach to select its areas of focus, in line with the Government National Development Plan strategies, and would analyse whether the Government is achieving the outcomes “economically, efficiently and effectively”.

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