Suzanne Leslie-Bailey: Who would you vote for?
The election season is in high gear and the main political parties are on a mission to woo voters. Conversely, some voters are weighing their options. Let's take a trip with a voter to the headquarters of both political parties.
Receptionist: Good afternoon. Welcome to the People's National Party (PNP) headquarters.
Voter: Good afternoon. I would like to speak with someone about the PNP's plans.
Receptionist: Here is one of our members of Parliament (MPs).
PNP MP: I will assist with any information that you need.
Voter: The place looks nice; you can see that money a run. Is the prime minister here or she gone to foreign? I can't tell the last time I see or hear her.
PNP MP: Yes, the prime minister is travelling. She and her 10-member delegation will be back in 10 days.
Voter: The prime minister seems like a nice lady, still. I would want one of her famous Portia 'chups', but then, that cannot pay the bills. Even my husband understands - no romance without finance! Also, I was proud, as a woman myself, that another woman had risen to the top, but now that she is there, is as if she doesn't know what to do! I feel let down by that!
PNP MP: The general election is near, so you will soon see and hear the prime minister.
Voter: I am stressed out by the rising murder rate. The Hanover massacre - Jesus wept! Then the health sector is in a disgraceful state. Just the other day, 18 babies died from bacterial outbreaks because the hospitals not clean! What are you going to do about that?!
PNP MP: Uuuumhh ... .
Voter: I am tired of the corruption and scandal. Why some people can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar?! While it is all good and well that the PNP Government pass 9 IMF tests, how does that butter my bread?
PNP MP: We are stepping up the progress!
Voter: No sir, more like you stepping up pon mi toe! I gone to hear what the other side has to say.
Voter later arrives at the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) headquarters and sees an MP.
Voter: I want to discuss some issues with you.
JLP MP: Come inside and let's talk.
Voter: I like how the JLP kept the Jamaican dollar stable during the global recession. Now, under PNP, the Jamaican dollar just a gallop wey like Mr Derrick Smith horse that win the derby the other day! I also like how your leader, Andrew Holness, going around the island spreading the message of hope for prosperity.
JLP MP: The JLP intends to move Jamaica from Poverty to Prosperity! Education is one of the vehicles we will use to do this. A JLP Government will reform the Students' Loan Bureau in order to increase access to tertiary education; remove auxiliary fees; introduce a skills-training apprenticeship programme at the post-secondary level; and make greater investment in early childhood education.
Voter: People are saying that it's the JLP's no-user fee policy that cause the health sector to be in such a horrible state. What would the JLP do to improve it?
JLP MP: That is not true! In the financial year 2007-2008, before the no-user fees policy was introduced, the Budget (less salaries and allowances) for the four regional health authorities was $2.2 billion. The user fee amount collected at that time was about $1 billion annually. When the JLP Government introduced the no-user fees policy in the 2008-2009 financial year, the Budget was increased substantially to $4.9 billion to make up for the loss of user fees.
A JLP Government would improve the health sector by making greater investment in the nation's hospitals and clinics and modernise our health-care infrastructure and medical facilities so as to improve service delivery. Importantly, we would regularly monitor the service delivery in the public-health system and strengthen the surveillance system and response capacity of the Ministry of Health.
Voter: Sounds good. I better leave before it gets dark. The crime situation 'sticky' bad!
JLP MP: Under a JLP Government, the murder rate fell by approximately 40 per cent during 2010. When the JLP takes the reins of government again, we will ensure that there is a well-trained, equipped and mobilised police force; greater use of technology and forensics to detect crime; find evidence and build cases that will be successful in the justice system; and strengthen the public-police partnership in crime fighting.
Who's the obvious choice you should vote for?