Friday, 03 March 2023 11:24

Constitutional Reform Committee established

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The Constitutional Reform Committee, which is to play a key role in ensuring Jamaica’s smooth transition to a republic, has now been constituted.

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, who made the disclosure during the sitting of the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives on March 1, said the work was to begin on Wednesday, March 1.

“The committee has been established to assist us in the process, to provide advice and oversight as we move on the most comprehensive and impactful constitutional reform work to be undertaken in the life of independent Jamaica,” stated Malahoo Forte.

She said the work will be done in three phases, while noting that focus will be on matters for which the votes of the electorate will be ultimately required to make the changes to the constitution, through the constitutional amendment bills.

“It is our intention to transition Jamaica from a constitutional monarchy to establish the Republic of Jamaica, within the Commonwealth, as a parliamentary republic with a non-executive president,” she noted.

The minister said the work of the committee will be assisted by a secretariat, which is now being put together.

Meanwhile, Malahoo Forte said the ministry has been mandated to supervise the Government’s legislation programme in each ministry.

The aim is to provide technical guidance and support, to monitor the work programme, and to implement strategies to close gaps.

“We hope to accelerate the pace of legislative reform without compromising quality and ensuring that all steps in the process are taken and properly sequenced, and if any is to be taken out, we will certainly look at that to ensure that there is no unnecessary bureaucracy or duplication,” the minister stated.

She added that the legislative review process is currently “riddled with inordinate delays, culminating in numerous pieces of legislation that are not being amended, repealed and replaced nor developed, and subsequently passed in a timely way.”

She added that, “I think the situation is further exacerbated by the paucity of legal and policy officers with the required qualification and experience in the various ministries. What we see from our review is that every year the ministries create an overly ambitious legislative priority without sufficient regard for the steps needed to be taken and what can realistically be accomplished within the year,” Malahoo Forte said.

She further added that the ministry has taken stock and will be reporting the findings to Parliament, with proposals for improvements.