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Jamaica headed in wrong direction, say respondents to Bill Johnson poll

Published:Monday | October 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips.
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Even as the Government was salivating over the September 24 announcement that Jamaica had passed its ninth consecutive test under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with the International Monetary Fund, 68 per cent of Jamaicans said they believed the country was heading in the wrong direction.

In a Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll, registered voters were asked: "Generally speaking, do you think things in Jamaica are going in the right direction these days, or are they going in the wrong direction?"

In the run-up to the December 2011 general election, when Johnson asked eligible voters a similar question, 54 per cent of the respondents had said the country was heading in the wrong direction, representing 14 percentage points fewer than the 68 per cent recorded last month.

This was at a time when the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration held the reins of power, but was later toppled by the People's National Party (PNP), which won a landslide victory at the polls.

The poll results also showed that 14 per cent of the respondents are of the view that the country is heading in the right direction.

 

According to Johnson, just before the JLP was trounced by the PNP in the December 2011 general election, 27 per cent of eligible voters had said the country was going in the right direction. This represents 13 percentage points more than those who now believe that the country is heading in the right direction. Another 18 per cent of respondents said they did not know.

 

TARGETS MET

In a recent statement to the House of Representatives on the Interim Fiscal Policy Paper, which was tabled in Gordon House, Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips argued that while much more remains to be done, most of the Government's targets under the EFF were met and that real GDP growth of 1.4 per cent this fiscal year is forecast and a subsequent two to three per cent in the next financial year is projected.

"Notably, inflation is at an all-time (almost 50 years) low, the Net International Reserves is very strong, the budget is near balance, and debt has firmly been put on a downward trajectory," Phillips declared in Parliament.

Despite these developments, however, 16 per cent of the respondents who said they would vote for the PNP believe the country is moving in the wrong direction.

Another 32 per cent of those who will not vote shared a similar view, while 33 per cent of JLP supporters also believe the country is going in the wrong direction.

At the same time, 18 per cent of undecided voters told Johnson that the country was heading in the wrong direction, while only seven per cent expressed an opposite view.

Johnson told The Gleaner that it is worrying for the incumbent party that 32 per cent of Jamaicans who had no plans to vote in the upcoming election believe that the country is going in the wrong direction.

"Nobody is enthusiastic about anything," Johnson said, in relation to the response of voters.

The pollster said he believed the upcoming election would see one of the lowest-ever voter turnouts.

During the three-day survey conducted September 25-27, 1,200 residents were polled with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com