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Opposition Leader calls for resumption of Vale Royal Talks


Opposition Leader Mark Golding appeared yesterday to hold out an olive branch to the Government, as he urged a period of consensus in a time of deep national crisis.

Golding, on more than one occasion during his contribution to the 2021/22 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives, recalled the efforts to resume bipartisan discussions on the most burning issues facing the country at what were labelled the Vale Royal Talks, which ended prematurely. He suggested that there was another opportunity for unity during the period of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I wish to begin this presentation by saying a few words about the role of the Opposition at this time in Jamaica’s history,” he said, pointing out to Prime Minister Andrew Holness that the lack of an effective channel of dialogue between both sides was not good for Jamaica.

“The Government and Opposition have not had even a single meeting since I became the leader of the Opposition. We should restart the Vale Royal Talks. The nation needs us to work together to tackle the current crisis. Mr Prime Minister, I urge you to do the right thing,” Golding said.

He also pointed out that while some people may be of the view that it is the business of an Opposition to oppose for its own sake, he did not approve of that.

“We on this side do not hold that view. A developing country such as Jamaica cannot afford that approach, when so much of the success of our young nation depends on harnessing the national will to achieve our national goals,” he said.

“We must support actions which we agree with, and be willing to assist the Government of the day with proposals and suggestions that we believe can help to make Jamaica stronger. We say, powerful together,” he stated.

“On the other hand, it is our responsibility on this side of the House to be constantly alert for infringements of guaranteed freedoms, or other abuses of power. We must be vigilant and strident in responding to maladministration and corruption, wherever it is identified. We must be rigorous in criticising policies and actions which do not contribute to national development,” he said.

“And we must do these things with courage, and with our full commitment. Our democratic system has brought us this far without losing the freedoms and openness that Jamaicans hold dear. It depends on the Opposition to strike the right balance between the two aspects of our constitutional role,” he added.

He said the country was now facing immense danger, but it could also be a time of great opportunity.

“We should use the lessons presented by the crisis to reset the status quo, rather than just yearning for a return to the ways of the past. We must identify new and better ways of tackling the challenges that impair our national progress. Only we, all of us together and united, can decide whether we learn from the crisis, or we yield to the crisis as we face the future,” he said.

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