Portia Simpson Miller Sworn in as New Jamaican Prime Minister

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By the Caribbean Journal staff

Portia Simpson Miller has been sworn in as the Prime Minister of Jamaica following a ceremony at Kingston’s King’s House this afternoon.

“In our political history, it is a rare opportunity to be given a second chance to lead,” she said. “This is a sobering experience, however, I have been strengthened by the experience having already gone through the first phase of the journey.”

It is Simpson Miller’s second time as Prime Minister of Jamaica, experience that she said would help her now.

“I stand before you a stronger and better person, prepared to be of service to my country and people,” she said.

“I am thankful to God for his guidance and strength, and to you the people of Jamaica for the faith and trust that you have placed in my team and me,” she said. “I am deeply humbled that, once again, you have chosen me to lead our nation as it stands at a crossroads.”

The economy was the major focus of her inaugural speech.

“I know, that we face an awesome task. There’s greater debt, increased poverty, poverty levels are high, and tighter fiscal space,” she said. “My administration will not engage in a blame game. We will present the facts to the Jamaican people based on rigorous analysis. Our approach must be to right the wrong and insist on accountability. We must learn from our past, absorb the lessons, and go forward.”

Simpson Miller said the mandate the Jamaican people had given the People’s National Party was a signal that the government “must earn their trust.”

“The mandate calls on us to protect the good name of Jamaica at home and in the eyes of the international community,” she said. “Jamaica must remain for all a quality brand, which gives citizens from all walks of life the opportunity to achieve their goals. The Jamaican people have sent a clear message – they want a more accountable and transparent government, which consults them and they should expect nothing less.”

Jamaican Governor General Sir Patrick performed the ceremony, which was attended by a number of foreign dignitaries, including Caymanian Premier McKeeva Bush and a number of members of the US Congress.

It was Jamaica’s second swearing-in in four months, following the swearing-in of and then Prime Minister and now Opposition Leader Andrew Holness in October after the resignation of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

“I pledge that the rule of law will be paramount, and that we will serve with humility,” she told the audience. “I pledge that we will honour the faith and trust of the Jamaican people. We will reject governmental extravagance and be vigilant in eliminating corruption.”

She specifically mentioned the country’s much-discussed agreement with the International Monetary Fund, pledging to identify the basis for a new agreement.

The Prime Minister also directly addressed the business community and its importance to the country, both in Jamaica and abroad, though noting that the government would use its abilities to stimulate growth and employment in the short and medium term, chiefly through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme.

“Let me say emphatically to the business community: we will pursue a tight fiscal policy, reduce our debt-to-GDP ratio, maintain the key macro-economic fundamentals, and be very careful and prudent in our debt management,” she said. “We will do all of this while seeking to improve the social conditions of our people, including a serious reduction of the chronic state of unemployment, particular among our youth.”

“While we try to balance the book, we balance people’s live s well,” she said.

Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party took 42 seats in the country’s election last week.