Sun | Sep 24, 2017

No intention to bring down the Gov't - Phillips

Published:Tuesday | April 11, 2017 | 4:00 AMErica Virtue
From left: Julian Robinson, general secretary of the People’s National Party (PNP); Dr Peter Phillips, new PNP president; Wykeham McNeill, PNP vice-president; and Imani Duncan-Price, PNP chief of staff, at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Friday at the media house’s Kingston headquarters.

Despite the one-seat difference between the Government and Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament, as well as disagreements over the new revenue package and revised property tax system, new Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said his party has no intention of forcing the hand of the Andrew Holness administration into possible early elections.

Speaking on Friday at a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the media house's Kingston head office, Phillips said there was a need to rebuild public trust - in the People's National Party (PNP) in particular.

"Our priorities are not to bring down the Government or to bolster the Government," said the new PNP president.

"Our priority is the protection of the interests of the Jamaican people. And I think that what is important in this is that the Government recognises that it has a one-seat majority and not behave as if it can ignore the real political balance that exists in the Parliament."

 

HOLD FEET TO FIRE

 

Phillips wants the Government's legislative agenda to be mindful of the parliamentary ratio.

"We intend to hold their feet to the fire, so to speak, to ensure that they take into account the views of the PNP representatives in Parliament," he said.

The party leader said the Opposition will be "in the streets" but their action will be part of the rebuilding process rather than in anti-government protest.

... New leader intends to rebuild public trust in PNP

Newly elected leader of the People's National Party (PNP), Dr Peter Phillips, intends to tackle several high priority issues that the 78-year-old party has been facing.

Dogged by reports of scandals over several decades, including the Trafigura saga involving senior members of the party's hierarchy, Phillips said the PNP must go a long way to rebuild public trust.

"Public trust means that people have to believe in the integrity of your purposes, because we are a low-trust society and environment. Frankly, in my view, that is a greater threat to nation building than the level of cynicism and the apathy that it breeds among the population, as a whole, and especially among the young people," he said.

"If we don't build this public trust to get participation at certain levels, for example, climbing up to what we had in the '50s, '60s and '70s, it is going to require determined action to convince people that the interest of the party is in the public interest of Jamaica and not the private interest of individuals."

Phillips and members of the PNP's spokesperson council have embarked on an islandwide tour, which they have dubbed a listening tour.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com