Henry calls for full debate on IMF programme
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
PUBLIC COMMENTATOR Martin Henry has called for the Government to have a full debate on the proposed programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Parliament.
"After a television and radio broadcast, the prime minister and the minister of finance should leave the microphone and the cameras and head to Gordon House and place the comprehensive details of the people's business before the people's representatives in the House of Representatives," Henry told The Gleaner on Monday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, on Monday night addressed the country outlining details of a proposed extended fund facility with the IMF.
According to Henry, the Opposition is "constitutionally organised to critique and challenge the Government". He said along with members of the Government backbench, the Opposition would be able to examine the proposals and present alternatives to the Government.
"It is well and good to speak to the nation directly. We appreciate that, but in terms of the analysis of architecture of a new plan, Parliament is the place for the people's business," Henry said.
In the meantime, commentators said the joint appearance by Simpson Miller and Phillips underscored the importance of the occasion.
Political historian Arnold Bertram said that by making a duo appearance, Simpson Miller and Phillips were seeking to communicate the importance of the moment to the country.
"It is such a moment of national importance and the way that they interpret the importance of the moment that both of them - one as leader and the other with direct responsibility for finance - that if they both communicate to the Jamaican people at the same time, it will convey the importance of the occasion," said Bertram, who has served in Cabinet with both Simpson Miller and Phillips.
Henry said the new ground being broken was interesting.
"I think the joint appearance (was) intended to send a message of solidarity and unity against speculations in media and veranda talk that there might be divisions with the Cabinet," Henry said.
He added: "I think it is an excellent idea that two of the most senior members of the Cabinet would jointly address the nation."
Similarly, Gregory Fisher, managing director of Oppenheimer & Company's subsidiary, Atlanta International, said the duo appearance underscored "the importance of the topic".