Holness says his administration’s move to make Portmore Jamaica’s 15th parish not born out of ill intent
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness is making it known that his administration’s desire to convert Portmore into Jamaica’s 15th parish is not born out of ill intent or political scheming.
Rather, the prime minister said this desire is due to a deeper understanding as to “how we allow our country to develop and progress”.
Holness was speaking at the Portmore Moravian Church in St Catherine, on Sunday morning.
“It is time to give Portmore the full authority in the Local Government context to manage its own affairs and that is what the government is doing,” he said.
In an effort to drive his point home, the prime minister explained to the congregation the historical connection between the church and local governance.
“In colonial times the Church of England used to administer its affairs by dividing up the territory of the United Kingdom into parishes. So, effectively the church and the state could be considered as one. And the state then became the monarchy and used the church as part of the administration of the affairs of the state. So, in effect, the church carried out some functions of local government… hence the term ministers. We still use it today, not just to refer to ministers of religion, but ministers of the state,” he said.
“But as the population of Jamaica grew and the colonial state needed to collect taxes, it had to figure out ‘where do I put the tax collection points so that it is easy for people to travel to that tax collection point’. So that largely was how they made the determination to carve up the country for its political administration,” he added.
Holness went on to say that eventually these areas even developed their culture and ways of doing things.
“So if you take that and apply it to Portmore, you can see that Portmore has evolved quite separately, in fact quite differently from the rest of St Catherine. That Portmore does have its own, what is called in sociological terms, its own agency; meaning, the people here feel that they can administer their own affairs.
“And this was expressed by Mayor George Lee at the time when he petitioned the government to make Portmore a municipality, so [that] you can take care of your own issues, your own approvals, dealing with traffic management, dealing with all the issues that you have to deal with,” he said, referencing the former Mayor of Portmore, George Lee, who died in 2013.
Noting what he described as a fundamental principle of religion called subsidiarity, the prime minister said, “What that principle states is that if a group of people can do something for themselves then another superior power should not do it, they should allow the people to do it for themselves.”
He argued that such a principle is aligns with the concept of freedom.
“…If a superior power continues to do for you what you can do for yourself, then what is that called? You are subjugated,” Holness said, as he emphasised the need to have the people of Portmore manage their own affairs.
– Candice Haughton