Green growth: 'From austerity to prosperity' - JLP set to outline its plan for economic increase at today's annual conference
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Scores of Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) supporters are expected to gather at the National Arena today for the annual confab where, according to general secretary Dr Horace Chang, the main focus will be on the theme 'From Austerity to Prosperity'.
Chang told The Sunday Gleaner that the JLP will be using its 71st annual conference to seek a buy-in on its comprehensive economic recovery programme.
He charged that the rival People's National Party (PNP) has failed to set out a cohesive growth plan over the past three years.
According to Chang, while the Portia Simpson Miller administration has implemented austerity measures with some discipline, it has been a dismal failure in advancing an effective growth agenda.
"While we understand the necessity for fiscal discipline, we also recognise the need for an effective growth programme that is clearly articulated and to obtain the buy-in of the wider public," said Chang.
The JLP general secretary said party leader Andrew Holness will be focusing on the need to implement both sides of the economic equation with the same levels of discipline.
"It is not happening now as economic growth is anaemic at best and the Government has not articulated the policy required for growth," said Chang. "There is an urgent need for companion activities for a successful fiscal programme."
Prepare for eventualities
Apart from outlining the JLP plans to take on the PNP on a range of issues, Holness is expected to remind Labourties that the political force needs to be prepared for any eventuality.
Criticisms of the Government's handling of the chikungunya outbreak, the raging controversy over purchase of lands on which the Outameni Experience was established, by the National Housing Trust, and other alleged missteps by the Simpson Miller administration are also expected to feature in the main address by Holness.
While the party has received a boost from the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson polls, Holness has acknowledged that the JLP is yet to make inroads into the large bulk of undecided voters.
The polls showed that it is not the JLP which has forged ahead but the PNP that has lost significant political capital.
"I see a bright future ahead and the only factor that can stop us from achieving that bright future is us," said Holness recently, as he called on party supporters to be ready for the upcoming elections.
Holness is expected to be joined at the microphone by Audley Shaw, the man he beat to maintain his hold on the party's top job one year ago.
Olivia 'Babsy' Grange; president of the party's affiliate group, Generation 2000, Floyd Green, and a representative of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union are also slated to address the public session of the conference.
According to Chang, the most pressing challenge will be getting the bulk of supporters out to conference.
He said the challenge will be greater for the 18 young newcomers to representational politics who are eager to show their strength.
"We are getting delegates and supporters out but the only challenge facing us is that some young, overenthusiastic and energetic prospective candidates are having a challenge getting everyone out," said Chang.