Editorial | The PNP’s lazy whine of doom
We understand the compulsion of politicians and their parties to consistently prove their relevance, to show to supporters that they are on top of issues and pursuing their interests. But it is of questionable value when such efforts descend to little more than carping or a pitiful whinge. Which is what is fast becoming the People's National Party (PNP), which is now merely five months in Opposition after its latest four-year stint in government.
It is unquestionable that their administration did a good job of managing the fiscal accounts and undertaking difficult economic reforms, which, neglected for more than 40 years, led Jamaica to long stagnation. They left a credible foundation upon which the current Government can, and should, continue to build and, so far, on the economic front, they have done little for which there is cause to complain.
It the circumstance and in the absence of serious introspection aimed at renewing itself and formulating policies for a changing environment, PNP has engaged, to a substantial extent, a kind of trivial sniping that belies its recency in office. Take the case of Noel Arscott, the shadow local government spokesman, who, for the life of the previous government, held that portfolio, which included responsibility for the fire service, about whose service there used to be much complaint.
Like other ministers in that government, and this one, Mr Arscott faced resource constraints. He was short of money to purchase all the fire tenders requested and required by the fire brigade.
But this week, Mr Arscott was fulminating about the inadequacy of the fire station at Old Harbour, St Catherine, saying that it was in a strategic area and ought to be "fully functioning". The current minister, Mr Arscott insisted, should ensure that "all other fire stations in Jamaica are properly outfitted so as to deliver on the job expected of them".
He has, in four months, forgotten what he left as minister, or his is a recollection that doesn't match reality?
Mr Arscott's boss, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, is hardly better.
Her administration left an emerging crisis of the Zika virus and much discussion about the likelihood of children born to mothers with the disease having microcephaly, or small heads. It is to the credit of Horace Dalley, the health minister appointed in the latter days of Mrs Simpson Miller's government, that he engaged in a vibrant public education programme on the Zika virus and for the eradication of its vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Mr Dalley, in this respect, was a breath of fresh air compared to his blame-fearing, run-for-cover, problem-denying predecessor, Fenton Ferguson, who had presided over the chikungunya epidemic and dead-babies scandal.
The new administration, with largely the same technocrats, is pursuing the same policies followed on the Zika matter. But Mr Dalley has found fault and Mrs Simpson Miller has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness about her concern "that there are over 200 pregnant women in Jamaica who fit the Zika case profile, yet there are only five positive test results" and suggesting that Jamaica is faced with a public health crisis.
She sounds very much like the call to doom on these issues against which we inveighed when Mrs Simpson Miller's party was in government. It does Jamaica no good. In the event, there are other, more productive ways for the PNP to spend its time.