George Davis | First 100 days - Honeymoon's over
Having completed its first 100 days in office, the Holness administration can look back with some satisfaction at the groundwork it has laid for the months and years ahead.
Incoming governments always seek to impress taxpayers by remarking that there's no honeymoon period, intending, no doubt, to communicate a seriousness in their approach to the job of managing affairs of State. But, in truth, those three months, where appointments have to be made to the executive, state boards and new posts created in the governance bureaucracy, represents the closest thing to a honeymoon that a new government can experience.
For it's in this period that the Opposition is constrained to criticise, given that any Budget that is crafted or any deterioration in economic performance will be directly attributed to what happened before the new administration was sworn into office.
It's the time when the fatigued adjectives, reeking strongly of camphor ball, are dug from the barrel bottom and used to describe a prime minister's countenance and approach to governance. The first 100 days are when words such as 'visionary', 'transformational' and 'charismatic' are used by gladhanders to describe our most important politician and the word 'growth' is mentioned with such nauseating regularity that you wonder how country people came to associate the term with the condition that made intercourse painful for women and caused their abdomens to swell.
Within the first 100 days, every minister wants to collaborate with his/her predecessor, continue pro-grammes started under the previous party, and work with their Opposition shadow to build a prosperous and peaceful land for their children and their children's children.
Yeah, I know, it does sound like bull crap, but I am only telling you what happens in the first 100 days. It's the time when ministers go confidently to press conferences and speaking engagements knowing that all they have to do is give promises about what they will do and restate their vision for the portfolio and the country. It's the best period in the life of any administration and is almost the calm before the storm of failures, broken promises, attacks from the Opposition, and disgruntlement among those who voted it into office but are yet to see any spoils for their toil.
So this Holness administration has been no different. It has taken the first three months-plus to organise itself and cast the foundation from which it intends to deliver on its promises. It has turned 1.5 into 1.5-plus. It has installed 'name-brand' business leaders into its much touted Economic Growth Council and has at least three ministers with direct responsibility for the workings of the growth ministry.
Apart from a difficult moment when Audley Shaw used one of his favourite phrases, 'sweetheart deal', to describe the Oceana Hotel transaction and caused consternation among the leadership of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the new Government has fostered a 'bromance' with the business community and has ingratiated itself with many Jamaicans on the back of the latest raid on the NHT, which gives more low-income earners a chance to own a home.
The Government's plans to remove the Queen this legislative year, legalise ganja and set fixed dates for election have also earned it some goodwill over the first 100 days.
But now the tide will turn. Results are now expected, even though 100 days is not time enough for tangible outcomes to be seen. The PNP administration did a tremendous amount of work, laying the legislative base for growth to happen. The JLP cannot now blame implementation delay on the tardiness of accompanying legislation being passed by Parliament. Ministers who have been silent since being sworn in will now be required to provide a progress report on what they've been working on.
And so where the PNP advertised itself as a great lover, but ultimately managed to pay only partial lip service to that boast, this JLP administration claims to be the skilled satisfier the country has been yearning for.
The administration now has the difficult task of performing with all the lights switched on and under the scrutiny of every eyeball. Under the conditions and with no sheet to hide beneath, will it prove to be impotent?