THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS AND ROLE OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL Print E-mail

The Governor-General of Jamaica is appointed by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, within the monarchical system of Government provided by the Jamaican Constitution. He is "Her Majesty's representative in Jamaica".

Constitutional Functions

Section 32 of the Constitution of Jamaica establishes rules governing the exercise of the Governor-General's functions.

He exercises the executive authority of Jamaica either directly or through officers subordinate to him. Among his most important responsibilities are appointments of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Senate, the Chief Justice and other members of the Judiciary. He also is responsible for swearing-in these important national leaders and issuing their respective Instruments of Office.

At the start of each Parliamentary year, the Governor-General delivers the "Throne Speech" in a joint sitting of both Houses, in which Government's programme for the ensuing year is outlined. Each Bill adopted by the Parliament must be approved by the Governor-General before it may be sent for gazetting as the law of the land. The Governor-General is required to give formal assent to recommendations from the Prime Minister for proroguing or dissolving Parliament.

The Governor-General appoints members of the nation's Services Commissions acting on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. These are the Judicial Services Commission, the Public Services Commission and the Police Services Commission, On the advice of the Commissions, he approves appointments to public offices and decides on their recommendations in respect of disciplinary control or the termination of employment and for the payment of pensions.

Other important appointments are  Privy Councillors, the Custos Rotulorum of each Parish,  Jamaica's diplomats, members of several Commissions, such as the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, INDECOM and the Broadcasting Commission, officers of the Jamaica Defence Force and of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Public Defender, the Ombudsman and the Contractor-General.

The Governor-General has audiences with the Most Honourable Prime Minister; regular meetings with the Leader of the Opposition; receives Members of the Cabinet whenever necessary and convenes meetings of the Privy Council which advises him on the Prerogative of Mercy and on Pardons in capital murder cases and appeals regarding disciplinary action against public officers. He is also regularly briefed by the Chief Justice, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Commissioner of Police. Further, through the receipt of Cabinet Decisions and papers on Government policy, he is kept advised on national issues. The Governor-General is consulted on most aspects of national life.

He grants formal assent to the conferral of Jamaican Honours and Awards and bestows these Awards in a specially convened ceremony at King's House on National Heroes Day.

The Governor-General frequently grants audience to overseas delegations, as well as to Jamaican public and private sector officials. He receives the credentials of newly designated Ambassadors to Jamaica who also meet with him prior to the end of their assignment. Each newly appointed Jamaican Ambassador and High Commissioner may also call on the Governor-General prior to their assumption of office.

Ceremonial Functions

The Governor-General is represented in each parish by a Custos Rotulorum. However, from time to time he attends events of importance to the respective parishes. His Excellency's presence at cultural, educational and charitable events of national and local importance encourages nationwide interest and publicity.

He hosts State banquets at his official residence, King's House, whenever a Member of the Royal Family or a foreign Head of State visits Jamaica officially, and annually, in honour of the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Jamaica. He presides over ceremonies of investiture for national officials and participates in events on the national calendar, such as Independence anniversary celebrations, commemorations of National Heroes, and national prayer vigils.

The Governor-General is Patron of the St. John Ambulance in Jamaica, in which capacity he has received the Knighthood of the Venerable Order of St. John. He also serves as Patron of several other organizations such as the Jamaica Agricultural Society, the Jamaica Cancer Society and the National Road Safety Council. He is also Honorary Member of the principal service clubs and is Chief Scout of Jamaica.

Frequently, the Governor-General acts in support of the organizations for which he is Patron and  is also invited to be Keynote speaker, bring greetings or send messages to events across Jamaica and sometimes in the major zones of the Diaspora.

The Governor-General is also the "Visitor" for the University of Technology, in which role he keeps an eye on developments at UTECH and if necessary, might even go there for a substantive inspection.

In response to citizens' correspondence, he requests Her Majesty The Queen to graciously send greetings to Jamaicans who attain their centenary, or who celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.  He sends his own greetings to them as well.

Community Outreach

The Governor-General's Programme for Excellence is the principal vehicle for his community outreach activities which include frequent visits to schools, hospitals and corporate entities. He also conducts annual parish tours, thus ensuring not only greater visibility and enhancing interaction with the people, but broader understanding of the many issues of interest to the Jamaican people.