Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness is charging that the governing People's National Party (PNP) needs to begin putting Jamaica ahead of party politics as it heads into its annual conference, but lacks confidence that the Portia Simpson Miller administration possess the political will to change course.
Holness, speaking in an interview with The Gleaner, said instead of dealing with the challenges of governance, the PNP is in search of an elusive divine intervention to get out of the rut in which it has found itself.
The opposition leader characterised the PNP as insular in its approach to governance. He charged that the PNP and its president, Portia Simpson Miller, have, for the past eight months, been squandering significant political capital on the party instead of taking the challenges bedevilling Jamaica by the scruff of the neck.
"The PNP has this massive political capital as demonstrated in the victory they received (in the December 29, 2011 general election). They have an overwhelming majority in Parliament. Why not use that political capital to the benefit of Jamaica?" asked Holness.
"As I have always maintained, the PNP is not for Jamaica. The PNP is for the PNP as a political party, not for the people. It is about power," he declared. "So they have this massive political capital and they refuse to use it, particularly Portia Simpson Miler."
Holness suggested that a "crystallisation" of Government deficiencies was reflected in the dragging out of the securing of a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"We must understand that it is not the IMF that is refusing to give Jamaica a deal. It is Jamaica that has not done what is necessary to qualify for a deal, and one gets the impression that the Government is looking for some form of divine intervention rather than being willing to address the fundamental issues."
QUALITY LEADERSHIP NEEDED
Holness asserted that "leadership" was required to steer Jamaica out of the crisis that it faces.
"One wonders who will step up to the plate and lead, who will take the risk, who will put the country first rather than the party first, and that is the real dilemma of politics in Jamaica."
He charged that the Simpson Miller administration faces a severe credibility crisis.
"For one, they have made promises that, so far, within eight months of their administration, they have been unable to deliver," charged Holness.
He said the Government has now admitted that the problems are not party specific, but are fundamental problems which require strong leadership.
"It is not clear, especially to persons in the private business sector, whether the Government has a clear policy and direction to address those fundamental issues."
Holness argued that the failure of the PNP was entrenched in a political culture that will not usher Jamaica forward.
"Our politicians are trapped in the politics of poverty," he declared.
According to Holness, Jamaica is caught in a brand of competitive politics that sometimes leads politicians to make promises and raise hopes that are not practical or realistic.
"It leads the politicians to focus more on short-term solutions to satisfy immediate gratification rather than to truly confront the electorate with substantial discourse on the matters that are really important for solving real problems," said Holness.
"This Government is trapped in the politics of poverty. They dare not take the measures that would be necessary to truly bring the people out of poverty."