Sat | Aug 19, 2017

'If Andrew was a pupil in my class he'd earn an A'

Published:Friday | March 20, 2015 | 3:00 AM
Hugh Dixon

I was impressed with Opposition Leader Andrew Holness' presentation in the Budget debate. He displayed confidence and composure throughout the presentation and he was prepared with a well-researched script, which he went through with self-assurance and familiarity.

Poverty to Prosperity was his chosen theme and his introduction using family, through to his stewardship in his constituency, set a good back drop to the presentation even if a little long at the start. The Singapore economy was his comparison for critiquing the Jamaican economy, using statistics dating back to 1962 was good use of baseline data.

His vision to bring back hope to the Jamaican people and to move them from Poverty to Prosperity increased the interest level and attention paid to the presentation. As a former minister of education he was on target with his analysis of the strategies and there was dignified exchange between himself and the current minister of education, Ronnie Thwaites. He used the Singapore model throughout his reference to education and while effective as a model for Singapore, I questioned: At what point will Mr Holiness articulate a Jamaican indigenous education strategy on which we can stamp the Jamaican flag, rather than being copy cats of foreign ideas suited to foreign conditions?

Jamaica's national security challenges were highlighted and again, he was well researched in this area. Taking us back to the 1962 murder rate and up to 2005, when Jamaica was declared the murder capital of the world, was good use of statistics. Mr Holness' recommended strategies were consistent with the problem and I score him nine out of 10 on this.

My reservations relate to the implementation which has always eluded our leaders when in the seat of power. I admired his call on the Parliament to speak with one voice in this area and the call seemed to have been well received. Health was where he made a swipe at the Government and the minister of health and that may have been good for scoring political points.

The Opposition leader's mastery came through in his depiction of the purchasing power of Jamaicans, using a basket of food that could be purchased with $3,000.00 in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The shrinking basket made a telling blow on the effect of inflation, devaluation and the impact of the austerity measures from the International Monetary Fund programme.

If he was a pupil in my class, Andrew Holness would have earned an A.

- Hugh Dixon is executive director of the South Trelawny Environmental Agency.