Holness seeks NPC focus on COVID-19 recovery

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has been exploring a number of issues, including the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in reviving the work of the National Partnership Council (NPC).

The council, chaired by sitting prime ministers of Jamaica, has been meeting under his chairmanship to explore the role of social partnership in Jamaica, in the context of the preparation of a new agreement to govern the council’s activities over the next four years.

He admitted having been concerned about the current focus of the NPC, which was founded in 2013, during the tenure of former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, has operated seamlessly across successive administrations since, and has proven invaluable to nation building.

Holness chaired the July 15 meeting of the council, which comprises leaders from the Government, parliamentary opposition, private sector, civil society, church, academia, trade unions and youth advocates, at Jamaica House.

The meeting explored the role of social partnership in Jamaica, in the context of the preparation of a new agreement to govern its activities over the next four years.

The prime minister outlined some of the areas of focus that could be considered for a new agenda. He cautioned that the input of the other partners was vital, and urged them to discuss areas of focus and submit a feedback within 30 days.

He has suggested that one area of focus should be on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the difficult and delicate balance required to preserve lives and livelihoods, and the considerations around the Government’s recent re-crafting of the measures to facilitate controlled reopening of the entertainment sector should be emphasised.

“There was consensus on the need to maintain a high degree of caution and vigilance, particularly in the context of the emergence of more transmissible variants and our relatively low rate of vaccinations at the meeting,” he said.

The Partnership Council expressed support for the Government’s call for all Jamaicans to be proactive and take personal responsibility, by adhering to the protocols established under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), that have been proven to be effective in controlling the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, there was a frank and open discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the council’s contribution over the life of the last agreement, and suggestions being put forward for its improvement.

There was consensus on the partnership process serving Jamaica well, particularly by fostering dialogue, cooperation, and collaboration among various sectors of the society, as well as with the Government. The Partnership Council re-affirmed its commitment to, and role in, nation building.

The National Partnership Council first met under the chairmanship of Simpson Miller in 2014, focusing on strategies to achieve the targets established in the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement.  

In July 2013, the private sector, government, private sector and civil society representatives on the council signed the Partnership for Jamaica Agreement, to aim at meeting targets in fiscal consolidation, rule of law, ease of doing business and employment, energy diversification and economic growth.

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