Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Religious party to ban strip clubs, casinos

Published:Wednesday | July 1, 2020 | 12:24 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Pastor Robert Rainford, prospective chairman of the newly formed Jamaica Progressive Party. The religious party intends to ban go-go clubs and casinos and resurrect the national airline.
Pastor Robert Rainford, prospective chairman of the newly formed Jamaica Progressive Party. The religious party intends to ban go-go clubs and casinos and resurrect the national airline.

The church-based Jamaica Progressive Party (JPP) will abolish income tax, ban go-go clubs, and raise salaries for civil servants if it gains state power.

JPP President Gilbert Edwards, who migrated to the United States when he was 20 years old, says his party also plans to increase the national minimum wage and invest in the mothballed national airline.

“I want to bring Air Jamaica back and all the other plans that we have is to make sure that our people are successful and we will be able to strengthen the family,” he told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

He said the abolition of income tax will ensure that Jamaicans will have more disposable income to clothe and feed their families.

“Income tax is very oppressive. People need to keep their income,” said Edwards, who also wants to decrease general consumption tax to 10 per cent. GCT is currently calculated at 15 per cent.

The 57-year-old medical technologist said he came from very humble beginnings as he was raised by a single mother who gave birth to him at 15 years old. He grew up in Mt Hindmost in Clarendon, prior to migrating to the US, where he made his fortune partly by launching a diagnostic centre. Edwards said he also had investments in other businesses.

The JPP is currently awaiting a formal certificate of registration from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica.

Director of Elections Glasspole Brown announced in early June that the registrar of political party was undertaking a review of JPP’s compliance with registration requirements. The party will know on July 11 whether it has been approved, thereby making it the fourth party to be registered by the commission to contest the next general election constitutionally due in 2021.

READY TO CAMPAIGN

General secretary of the JPP, Robert Rainford, said the party will be campaigning once its registration is ratified.

“We have been doing work for four years, and we are just now coming out for the public to see who we are and to support us going forward,” said Rainford.

“I believe that a lot of persons feel that you need a very long time to campaign. If the election is called in August, then we have approximately two full months to take the message across Jamaica.”

The party has more than 50 candidates, the majority of whom are pastors.

Rainford, a pastor in the United Church who has served as permanent secretary in both the justice and local government ministries in the past, said the candidates come from varying backgrounds and have technical skills to ensure the party’s success.

NOT A THEOCRACY

The party’s colour will be purple, which Edwards, a father of two, said represents royalty. He said he is currently in the process of relinquishing his US citizenship so he can be eligible to run for a parliamentary seat. Jamaica’s Constitution outlaws members of the House of Representatives and the Senate from having dual nationality except in cases of Commonwealth citizenship.

Edwards assured that a government run by his party would not be a theocracy, although the JPP would abolish strip clubs, nude hotels and casinos, because of the adverse sociocultural effects these businesses have on women.

One bishop who signed up to serve in the party told The Gleaner that he was initially sceptical until he gradually saw the movement as the answer to prayer.

“The Church and I personally, we have been praying for change and for deliverance and just better for the nation,” he said.

“If the funding is there as said, I think 90 per cent of the work would be finished, because now to find the technocrats, the bureaucrats, and the people to have the support system in place would not be impossible if the funding would be there,” said the bishop, who requested that his name be withheld.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com