Time to clear this up
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The issue at stake is the fact that during the recent parish council election period, a bush-clearing and drain-cleaning project was also in operation. This project was seen by some as a vote-catching giveaway. The comment by Dr Horace Chang, the general secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), that the two projects running together was purely coincidental cannot be taken seriously.
We must consider the effect of the project on the elections. Most analysts had predicted that the JLP would win control of some of the councils, though the experts differed on details. My own view is that the project had minimal effect on the vote of less than 30 per cent of the electorate. The reports were of large numbers of JLP green-shirted workers on the project and People's National Party (PNP) leaders were unaware of the project. The National Works Agency, which was the executing agency for the project, would not have had any influence on the project. Many believe that the project should not have been run during the election period.
Public comments were made by a wide range of persons and entities. A strident Gleaner editorial argued that the project was typical of a corrupt political system.
Daniel Thwaites, in his Gleaner column, (December 11) commented on the unbudgeted project which lacked parliamentary scrutiny and ran the risk of fiscal irresponsibility. The PNP's general secretary, Julian Robinson, stated that the project was unprecedented. There were many letters in the press speaking negatively about the project and its implementation.
PM must apologise
There are a number of conclusions that can be reached from all of this.
1.The project was done at a time when the separation of political patronage from objectivity could not be properly identified. Government communication was very poor.
2. The project struck at the heart of the partnership principle that was being articulated by the new Government.
3. Commitment to financial responsibility was violated.
The prime minister needs to apologise to the Jamaican people for the timing of the bush-clearing and drain-cleaning project, and for the confusion that it caused.
By so doing, the prime minister would personally move himself, his Government and his party to the moral high ground and clear the way for a fresh start on some important processes.
Dr A. W. Sangster
President Emeritus UTech OJ, PhD