A depressing speech
The Gleaner met with a group of students from Wolmer's Boys' and Girls' schools yesterday as they reflected on what they had heard from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as she made her contribution to the Budget Debate. Here's what they had to say:
Tamick Segree, 18
First of all, the prime minister took too long. She spent 20 seconds on Riverton which is a major issue; the landfill was burning for two weeks.
I think that when she mentioned her mandate to speak about the children, the landfill and the health sector, hat was a good start. But she spent too much time talking about things that are not of importance currently.
I heard no solutions about recycling, nothing on private partnerships... I think that is unfair. If you say children are the future and you spend so little attention on solutions, that is wickedness as the prime minister of our island.
She consistently spoke about progress. I haven't felt any. I will have to take her word for it. There is no development that I have seen.
If I were to grade her it wouldn't be an F, it would be a G.
My views on Jamaica have not changed. If you're going to have a prime minister who cannot even stick to the issues in her speech - her very speech is a depiction of her governing style.
I don't see anyone that is fitting to lead. Our politicians are known for giving false promises that they do not keep.
Kuan-kera Wheatle, 15
The presentation was repetitive, and I don't think that the main issues were addressed. For example the Riverton dump; it wasn't properly dealt with. One of the main problems with the way the prime minister governs is that she is not current. As prime minister she needs to know what is going on and able to talk about it. All I really got from her slogan was "this is progress". Her saying that had me thinking to myself, "this is not progress".
I was expecting actual statistics; more details as to where the country stands.
With inflation being a big issue in Jamaica, I was expecting more from the prime minister in addressing that.
She spoke about job increases, but we are not actually seeing any increases in everyday life.
If anything, her speech today changed the way I look at her for the worse. There was some hope that maybe after all these years today in power she would improve as a leader, but if anything she is getting worse.
I don't think that we are led properly.
In two years, hopefully I won't be living in Jamaica because of the way in which we are being governed; I don't see it improving. Even if we vote for another party, I don't see them bringing any new ideas to improving Jamaica. It only seems like Jamaica is going to get worse. I don't want to be living in a situation where I have to be working day and night and still unable to make ends meet.
I don't think we are moving in the right direction. We are moving on promises; the words of the politicians.
Danelle Matthews, 15
The presentation was filled with unnecessary things. The speech was basically repeating herself in different ways; brilliant speech tactic by the way.
She left the more important things for later in her presentation.
I expected her to talk more on the Riverton City dump, expanding on the health sector; what is being done and what needs to be done and how the Government will be using this new budget to get these things done.
I don't think the speech changed the way I viewed her; someone who tries to charm her way into Jamaican lives, the sympathetic one. She might say Jamaica is getting better, that there is progress, but I don't feel it, I don't see it.
I think the most important thing she revealed today was when she was talking about the investments contributing to growth.
I see no reason to vote in the next elections.
Gezel Rodney, 17
Concerning the abuse of our children, the prime minister has in fact touched on a sensitive issue in a needed way.
The facts that were brought forth, I feel were an acceptable step to enlighten us on the detestable actions against our budding leaders. There was mention of our financial standing as a country; the statements which were used were not entirely believable and acceptable as there were many mentions of our problems, but limited mention of what was done in order to seek resolutions. Nothing really of what we ought to do to move forward to a brighter future.
"This is progress" is quite a powerful phrase utilised within the lines of her speech. Fair attempts in trying to win the hearts of Jamaican people, but not good enough when she has chosen to undermine our faults.
The issue of the Riverton landfill was too brief. I'm not satisfied with the surface scanning of the issue; yes we have gotten today's problem under control, but what exactly are the solutions being offered to prevent fires from rekindling year after year?
The speech was just a matter of stating things over and over; empty promises and nothing done to solve our problems.
I don't see any progress in either party. Both of the leaders, based on what I've seen so far; they are just in it to gain power. I don't think we are properly governed.
We're still on a flat road; we have not gone to higher heights as she has said.
Bradley Nembhard, 18
Most of her speech was of things that were irrelevant. It was a budget speech; I expected to get facts, numbers and statistics. I probably have enough to count on my hands; that left me very depressed because this is lacking lots of information that I expected in the development of the country.
What is the Government really doing if she is in charge? I expected to hear more about the Riverton city dump - the problems like it was a chemical fire, not just a fire. What about the PCP which is now sitting in the air, damaging our lungs and our bodies?
I expected to hear more about the delays of GSAT and all those children that were hampered. I expected to hear more about the energy crisis that we had - the 360 megawatt plant, and the fact that we have had increasing year after year.
Finally, she gave us the figure for how much Outameni was purchased for, but I still have not quite heard enough information to fully accept that this is a good purchase and that we will benefit the reaping of this in the future.
I have not quite, as the average man, felt most of the benefits of the IMF and the increase of foreign direct investment. I don't see where people are moving up. I see more going down; more businesses collapsing, more people suffering. I have never seen as many people on programmes just to survive.
If she says that the investment is increasing year after year, why are there money issues at the dump?
I still think that there is much to be desired in the prime minister's leadership. She could do better.
Jordan Ferguson, 18
Firstly, I realise that she wanted to speak about three main issues. I was pretty pleased with how she addressed the care and protection of children. She's asking for the help of people within the communities; I totally agree with that. She stated that she would like to intensify efforts to bring justice to perpetrators who harm children, but she did not state how she would do this.
In terms of the fire at Riverton, it was very brief. She did not state how we will be affected in terms of our health. I was not pleased with how she addressed that. I wanted her to state what solutions could now be implemented to correct the issues that keep arising year after year at the dump. But she did not go in depth into that.
She stated that the health sector has received money to invest and improve their efficiencies, but once again she did not go in depth and tell us how.
I'm very pleased that they are passing the IMF tests. But there is a very vital test that she is not really addressing and that is the survival test of the people. Andrew Holness was speaking about the consumer price index. The prime minister did not address inflation in her presentation.
I believe that we are making progress but I'm not really pleased with how people's quality of life is being improved.
She said that jobs are being created; I'm not sure of that. I'm not even sure what happened to JEEP.
I have nothing against the prime minister, I just hoped she would address the problems properly.
Glendon Lewis, 19
The presentation was a ballad of good and bad. Usually, if you know about Portia, she is 'Mama P', mother of the poor. What she did that was really good was to bring up current affairs; abuse of children and the vulnerable.
What she didn't do well is how she addressed Riverton. She omitted figures and other aspects of Riverton. For example, if a fire is happening every year then the money that is used to out the fires could have been used to develop the dump.
What the real problem we have in Jamaica is a lack of coordination and control.
I was expecting her to dive deeper into energy; if we don't address such a meaningful problem like energy our goals won't be fruitful.
I appreciated the fact that she mentioned that there are local investors involved in our own country. There were even some statistics that I was not aware of in terms of the economic growth and I really appreciated that.
Based on what she said and what I know, I believe we are growing, but it's not happening fast enough.
The prime minister mentioned consumer confidence, the Forbes study and other figures like that. I think revealing those are very important things that investors will look at.
But all things considered, I haven't seen anything or heard anything today that has convinced me and that would make me exercise my right to vote.