Sectoral debate starts today at Gordon House

THE annual sectoral debate commences this afternoon at Gordon House, downtown Kingston, with Leader of the House of Representatives Edmund Bartlett’s opening presentation, which will focus on his tourism portfolio.

Opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna will also speak today. The debate will last for several weeks with inputs from other Cabinet ministers and backbenchers.

Bartlett, just a year ago, informed the country of the appointment of a COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Task Force formed to bring together some of Jamaica’s best minds to marshal a recovery plan for the sector, which has been hard-hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

He said then that the end result was likely to be a new tourism space, where health and safety are a critical. He is likely to readdress some of those issues this year, with the pandemic still a clear danger to any chance of a full recovery of the sector by the end of 2021/22.

He should also address a number of areas linked to a full recovery, including global vaccination; the St Thomas Tourism Development Plan; tourism incubator and funding; investment facilitation and framework; community tourism; increased linkages; and destination assurance.

Other issues likely to arise include adjustments to JAMAICA CARES, which provides all the tools needed for “a safe, seamless and enjoyable trip to Jamaica”, as well the problems created by the eruption of La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent, which started on Friday, April 9, and continues to threaten its economy which is mainly dependent on tourism, as well as Jamaica’s activities to assist that country’s recovery.

Hanna is expected to address several regional and global issues, particularly the Caribbean Community’s relationships and the effect of the pandemic on these relationships.

Indications are that some internal issues, including the Parliament’s response to the questions surrounding the attendance of Government backbencher George Wright, MP for Westmoreland Central, to meetings of the House of Representatives at Gordon House, are also likely to arise.

It is quite likely that the Opposition will make another attempt to have Wright suspended.

— Balford Henry

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