Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Mark Wignall | No bells and whistles for the JLP’s performance

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 3:00 AM

On February 25, 2016, Chupski and I briefly stood in line at a polling station in Red Hills square. A few minutes later we both voted Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). She was voting for the first time. The last time I voted was in 2002 and it was for the People's National Party (PNP).

I did not expect the JLP to win but it did, by a flea's length. Now one year later, I ask myself, has there been any tangible change? Well, it depends on perspective.

A very wealthy man who spends most of his time with his peers in wealth has few complaints. He has made a lot of money investing in the stock market and his core commercial operation is humming along quite fine. If the bottom line of his business is healthy and his personal wealth has seen significant increases, he has no problems ascribing it all to the performance of the JLP.

His workers may not quite see it the same way, stewing as they are silently - positive that they are underpaid and knowing for sure that they have not seen an increase in wage levels in the last five years as the dollar declines, their spending power weakens and they are told by experts that inflation is at its lowest.

Speak to teachers from, say, Immaculate or Campion or Ardenne or Montego Bay High, who have seen their youngsters acing their exams under PNP and JLP administrations, and they would be willing to give the nod to whichever party is in power and for now award a passing grade to the present JLP administration.

Sit with another group of teachers from a non-brand name school where the sheer effort to maintain discipline on a daily basis has sucked the life out of their teaching abilities. They will tell you that the JLP and the education minister should go and jump in a lake. And don't come up for air.

I would not reasonably expect that the present government would have broken any speed records in policy implementation, management and success because I know that the machinery of government, whether it is JLP or PNP-run is a crawling race and not a speedy gallop to the tape.

 

FISCAL PRUDENCE

 

The best, so far, that the Holness led JLP administration has done is hew to the tentative paths of fiscal prudence set out by the last PNP administration. But here are the caveats. Under the PNP, then finance minister, Peter Phillips knew that he had to bring his cabinet colleagues into the reality of IMF strictures. He successfully sold it and it was bought.

With new power gained last year February Holness and his team also had no choice but to mesh the JLP politics on the campaign trail and its policies in government with the dictates of the IMF, hence his administration's pending raid on the NHT to meet the promises which won him the elections.

To be sure, at street level I have sensed that many are willing to give PM Holness and his team 'a chance' on his full term, but I am not so certain that if he fizzles out halfway he will be given a free pass to the next elections.

Violent crime is the loud parade of elephants stampeding through our lives and the society at large. That, of course, empowers the opposition PNP and provides the party with its new-found vision which 'afflicts' all political parties recently tossed out of power. The answers to the country's ills suddenly materialise and collectively they cry out, 'I can see, I can see!'.

Dr Peter Phillips will soon be installed as PNP president and appointed as opposition leader. Time is not on his side and his shelf life at the top of the PNP will be like a bag of freshly-reaped onions, not yet fully 'cured' in the sun and waiting to go bad in the dark of the warehouse.

His mode after the end of March will be one of relentless attacks on the Holness led JLP administration. He has no choice.

For me, the JLP earns six out of 10 simply because it has survived one year with a mere one-seat advantage.

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