Percival James Patterson was first appointed Prime Minister of Jamaica in March 1992, after his election as President of the People’s National Party, following the retirement of former Prime Minister, the late Michael Manley.
He returned to Office following the national elections held in 1993 March 30, and became the first Jamaican Prime Minister to be sworn-in for a third consecutive time, after he led the PNP to an unprecedented third term victory in the elections of 1997 December 18.
Mr. Patterson’s ascension to the Office of the Prime Minister was a fitting culmination of over 20 years of distinguished service to the State, including the holding of various senior Cabinet positions.
He graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Honours) in English. He studied Law at the London School of Economics (LSE), graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Laws Degree. He was awarded the Sir Hughes Parry Prize for Excellence in the Law of Contract and also won a Leverhulme Scholarship while at the LSE.
He was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1963 and admitted to the Jamaican Bar later that year. Mr. Patterson was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1984.
His political service began in 1958, when he joined the People’s National Party. In that year he became Party Organizer, moving to membership on the National and Party Executive Councils in 1964. He was elected a Vice President of the party in 1969 and served as Party Chairman from 1983 until he became President and Party Leader in 1992.
Mr. Patterson’s distinguished Cabinet career began in 1972, with his appointment as Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Since then he has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (1978-1980); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, Planning and Production (1989-1990), and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning (1990-1991).
Prime Minister Patterson’s vision for Jamaica is one in which “we build a land of opportunity and prepare for a brand new world in which every citizen – man, woman and child – shares a sense of self-esteem and personal stake holding in a modern, prosperous and truly enlightened Jamaica.”
As Prime Minister, he has spearheaded Jamaica’s cessation of an 18-year borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), effectively creating thee platform for Jamaica to once again exert control over its economic affairs.
His efforts have led to the stabilisation of the economy with low levels of inflation, a stable currency and record high levels of Net International Reserves. He has also promulgated a National Industrial Policy, a blueprint for the nation’s growth and development into the 21st Century.
The Prime Minister’s social agenda has spawned the creation of a National Land and Shelter Policy and resulted in the accelerated provision of housing solutions for the people of Jamaica.
He has conceptualised and implemented Operation Programme for Resettlement and Integrated Development Enterprises (PRIDE), a comprehensive shelter programme, which is helping to regularise informal settlements and contribute to the country’s housing needs.
Mr. Patterson’s efforts have also led to the re-introduction of the National Youth Service, the creation of the Special Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP), and the introduction of the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP), all aimed at assisting the most vulnerable groups in the society – the young and the elderly.
Prime Minister Patterson has made education his Administration’s top priority and has allocated the largest portion of successive national budgets towards the sector. His goal is to integrate Information Technology (IT) throughout all levels of the educational process.
His commitment to education is under-pinned by his insistence upon an adherence to democratic principle, integrity in public life, and strong social ethics and moral principles.
Prime Minister Patterson is respected worldwide as an astute international statesman, who has made a mark in such forums as the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African, Caribbean and pacific (ACP) Group and many others. Mr. Patterson is also the former Chairman of the IX Summit of the Group of 15 (G-15), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is currently Chairman of its Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on External Negotiations.
He has utilised his legal and negotiating skills in the international arena, especially as one of the leading architects of the LOME Convention between the ACP States and the European Union, first signed in 1975. One of the principal actors in the evolution of the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) into CARICOM, his goal for the region is a Single Market and Economy in the very near future.
Prime Minister Patterson is the recipient of several international awards. He was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 1992.
Foreign awards include the Order of Aguila Azteca Mexico (July 1990); the Order of Liberator Simon Bolivar (First Class), Venezuela (1992); the Great Cross of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile (1992); the Order of San Marti, Argentina (1992); the Order of Gran Cruz Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada, Colombia (1994); and Order of Francisco Morazan in the rank of Gran Cruz Placa de Oro, Honduras (1994); and the Order of Jose Marti, Cuba (1997).
Prime Minister Patterson has also been bestowed with academic awards by tertiary institutions worldwide. These include the Honorary Doctor of Letters, North Eastern University, USA (1994); and the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Brown University, USA (1998).Mr. Patterson belongs to the Baptist denomination. His interests include jazz, Jamaican music and such spectator sports as cricket, boxing, tennis and track and field. He has a son, daughter and a grand-daughter.