Maintain a steady course, PJ tells PNP
P.J. Patterson, a former president of the People's National Party (PNP), says that much of the advancement made by Jamaica under his watch as prime minister was reversed during the time the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) formed the government.
"The new administration had to tackle the problems including the poor reputation that Jamaica had suffered in the international market place," Patterson told The Gleaner on Tuesday.
The former prime minister, who led Jamaica from 1992 to 2006, said Jamaica, through the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration which took over state power in January 2012, has overcome the challenges brought upon it by the JLP.
The JLP formed the government from October 2007 to December 2011.
"We have ensured stability in the economy and we are now ready for self-sustaining growth, and Prime Minister Simpson Miller's administration has been able to keep the social lid in place. So this is really a time when, having logged on the progress from 1992 and 2006, we are now in a position to step up the progress," Patterson said.
Simpson Miller, speaking at the PNP's manifesto launch on Tuesday, said, "There is the national and international acknowledgement that, at long last, Jamaica is getting its social and economic house in order."
Patterson, when asked whether the statement was not an indictment of his previous PNP administrations which served as government for 22 of the past 26 years, said "no".
STRUGGLES OF THE 1990S
"It is no secret that we have faced economic challenges, particularly in the period of the '90s when we were trying to build a modern, competitive economy, which included liberalisation and deregulation. There is no secret that we had to confront some problems with the adjustment to the market economy, some of which we did so successfully that when the meltdown was taking place in North America we thought we were immune and we did not take proper corrective action in a timely manner," Patterson said.
He said that having to find the resources in the domestic economy to deal with the problems in the financial institutions, the government of the day ensured that the country's human capital and infrastructure were not ignored.
Jamaicans will vote on February 25 for a new government. The PNP is seeking a second consecutive term in office and Patterson, who has the record of winning three consecutive general elections - 1993, 1997 and 2002 - said the writing on the wall suggests a PNP win.
"This one is saying that we are on track. We have to maintain a steady course, and certainly, I believe that between now and election day, the emphasis has to be on the performance over the past five years and a proper projection of what the administration intends to accomplish for the time ahead," Patterson said.