THE EDITOR, Sir:
PRIME MINISTER Portia Simpson Miller's recent speech at the National Arena was not only fabricated; it also lacked substance. Although the previous administration had made a few errors, the fact still remains that the Jamaica Labour Party achieved some level of macroeconomic stability. Further, Bruce Golding was lauded by The Economist magazine for his stellar performance as prime minister.
Mrs Simpson Miller's address failed in two regards. First, she failed to indicate the role the People's National Party (PNP) played in the ruination of the economy. Second, her address was bereft of targets. Today, Jamaica's public debt is $1.7 trillion and this was not created four years ago. The administration of Mr P.J. Patterson presided over the deterioration of the productive sector and engaged in profligate spending. During 1993-2001, the manufacturing sector declined by nine per cent, while the agricultural and construction sectors contracted by 15 per cent.
However, since Mrs Simpson Miller and most of the electorate suffer from amnesia, I would like to remind them of some of the PNP's past sins, by referring to Vernon Derby's article 'PNP scandals send $6 billion down the drain', published in The Gleaner dated, Tuesday, February 19, 2002. It read: "The emerging controversy surrounding the National Housing Development Corporation is the latest in at least six major money scandals to hit the governing people's national party since it took office 13 years ago. Combined, these scandals have resulted in billions of taxpayers dollars going down the drain."
Therefore, Mrs Simpson Miller should have refrained from engaging in populist politics, because not all Jamaicans are idiots. Mrs Simpson Miller missed a golden opportunity to set the record straight. She should have used this opportunity to tackle issues such as education and crime, and explain the macroeconomic situation of the country. However, she did exactly what her critics expected her to do - blamed the JLP for the nation's problems and promised her audience goodies. Furthermore, the money being wasted on 'JEEP', should have been used to establish a science in the long term, this would have resulted in real economic benefits; but, then again, Jamaica's political culture is about welfare and not wealth creation. In addition, it suits the politician to exploit the ignorance of the poor. After all, Jamaica's political system is about the fight for scarce benefits and spoils among warring political tribes.