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The JLP is suffering from political amnesia – PJ Patterson

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:00 AMAdrian Frater
P.J. Patterson

Western Bureau:

In seeking to make a mockery of the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) promise to bring prosperity to Jamaica should the party win tomorrow's general election, former prime minister and People's National Party (PNP) stalwart, P.J. Patterson, says the Labourites know nothing about prosperity.

"They know about poverty, they don't know about prosperity. I say, and I repeat, they know about poverty, they do not know about prosperity. And hear me why I say that: Most of you know me as a politician, but me is a lawyer, and mi deal with facts, mi nuh deal with fiction. And what I am talking tonight are facts," said Patterson, who was addressing a PNP mass meeting in Montego Bay on Sunday night.

Patterson, who intimated that he initially had no plans to get on the campaign trail, said he felt compelled to come out to correct some of what he said were falsehoods being bandied about by the JLP, which he said appeared to be suffering from political amnesia.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH

"My mother taught me, 'speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what you will.' Tonight, I want to deliver a cargo of truth, the living truth, nothing but the truth," said Patterson. "... and I want you to listen because it looks like some people in the Labour Party suffering from political amnesia, and I need to remind them and I need to talk to you lest we forget. I hear them talking about how they managed the economy and how we mashed up the economy. Let me tell you some facts, not fiction.

"When Michael Manley won in 1989, the net international reserve, that is to say, the foreign exchange that we owe, was minus US$800 million," said Patterson. "I remember 1993, I was about to give my New Year's broadcast, and Omar (Davies, former finance minister) called me, and he said that for the first time, we moved from the minus to the plus. That December, we had $12 million, the first time. When we left it, we had $2.4 billion. That is why I was able to tell the IMF (International Monetary Fund) man them, board the plane ... take off.

"In 2007 when they came in, they (the JLP) said the meltdown that was taking place in the United States would not affect us; it was a good thing for us. Michael Manley used to tell us, when America catch a cold, we catch pneumonia. They had to come back to the IMF," stated Patterson.

He said that from 2006 to 2007, unemployment was at 9.9 per cent. However, under the JLP, it rose to 10.6 per cent and in 2011 to 12.7 per cent. Patterson said that 49,500 jobs were lost between 2007 and 2011 under the JLP. But between 2012 and 2015, the PNP created 47,600 new jobs.

Patterson said that the economy was growing by 2.9 per cent in 2006 and by 1.4 per cent in 2007 when the PNP left office.

"When the Labour Party left office (2011), Jamaica was ranked as the worst-performing economy in the world. We reached 142 out of 142 - dead last!," said Patterson. "That is why Andrew (Holness) said if they won, they were going to have to administer bitter medicine. Yes, we had to call upon the people to make sacrifices, but instead of bitter medicine, we found the right doctor who could administer the proper antidote so the patient could recover."

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com