Wayne Walker reports

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, PSOJ, is calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to re-evaluate his position on the matter of the chairmanship of the Sessional Committees of the House of Representatives.

In a statement this morning, the PSOJ says it came to the decision through consultation with stakeholders.

This, after Prime Minister Holness, partially broke with a recent convention by returning the chairmanship of several sessional committees to government members.

The PSOJ is strongly recommending that the Prime Minister engages the Leader of the Opposition to put in place performance standards for the Chairman and members of these Sessional Committees.

PSOJ President Keith Duncan, says this will ensure they provide the oversight function that was intended and is required from these committees.

Mr. Duncan says Sessional Committees have the responsibility of ventilating Government policy positions and projects.

He adds that they bring these deliberations into the public space while providing oversight on behalf of the Jamaican citizenry.

The Prime Minister noted as part of his reasoning that during the last parliamentary term there were infrequent meetings of several sessional committees when compared to the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, PAAC.

He questioned whether this was on the basis of little to gain politically by the Opposition from the work of the other sessional committees.

However, the PSOJ says it’s received clarity that the development and execution of Government policy and projects will not and have not been hampered by the relative inactivity of these committees.

It says, notwithstanding, it is disappointing that elected legislators have not provided an acceptable level of oversight, review and scrutiny of Government policy positions that fall under the purview of these Sessional Committees.

The PSOJ President says while this disregard of national duty should not be tolerated, it also doesn’t believe that removing the oversight function from the Opposition is an acceptable solution.

Mr. Duncan believes the Opposition must take responsibility for the failure of this oversight function.

It also does not accept that the constraints of space and resources for convening of meetings are insurmountable.