Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller is being called upon to bring goodies to Jamaica and her thousands of delegates and supporters when she addresses the public session of the party's 75th Annual Conference today.
In fact, political commentator Dr Paul Ashley says it would be unheard of for a party leader to come to an annual conference bearing bad news.
"That does not happen, and it won't happen on Sunday. Everybody wants to come feeling good and leave feeling good. Portia will deliver on that," Ashley told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to him, several baskets of goodies were needed to quell the disaffection in the society.
"She must tell the country that the Government has secured foreign investments that will yield thousands of jobs. She must say 'We were put there to improve the living standards of the majority of Jamaican people, and this we intend to do with due regard to the environment'," said Ashley, an attorney-at-law.
Simpson Miller, he said, must address the issue of the credit constraints facing the Government and the effect it has on the State's spending ability.
"She will ask for time and patience, and she will say they are starting now, fully conscious of the processes and difficulties, but 'we will try as far as possible to mitigate the damage and hardships, but the investments will come in due time'," said Ashley.
His view is supported by PNP officials who were guests at a Gleaner Editors' Forum held last Thursday at the newspaper's Kingston offices.
NEED NEWS OF HOPE
"I think she has to explain and demonstrate to the country how the programmes of the Government will redound to the benefit of the country, in a specific time frame, and in terms of (economic) growth. I believe the country is looking to hear (also) the news of hope, and I believe that will be provided," said Phillip Paulwell, member of parliament, Kingston Eastern and Port Royal, as well as chair of Region Three - the cluster of Corporate Area constituencies.
But Ashley was not done. Simpson Miller, he said, must address the issue of the performance of some of her ministers.
"This is what she needs to say: 'I know that there has been some dissatisfaction with some of my ministers. In some cases, it has been a learning process. They have serious financial constraints in which to operate. Every minister would like to do better, but the constraints are crippling. It hard, the dutty tough, but we trying our best'," he said.
Ashley argued that the prime minister must admit that, "We will make some mistakes. We can't please everybody all the time, but we are committed to empowering the Jamaican people and to making their lives better. I, Portia Simpson Miller, will never be part of any regime that departs from that mission because I have a pact with the people of Jamaica that I intend to carry out."
Dr Christopher Charles, political psychologist and lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona, said the PNP leader should tell the country the Government's plans to reduce unemployment.
"Unemployment is very high. She has to unveil plans to bring down unemployment, and not just any type of investment, but productive investment. Investments that must transform the country in a significant way and bring jobs," said Charles.
He said she must unveil policies and plans to educate and train young unskilled Jamaicans to access the skills "the productive investments required", and also for the global world.
Charles said the party leader must explain how she will keep Jamaica safe.
"The issue of crime and violence is unending, and she must address that. The high level of crime and criminality is unacceptable, and she cannot come to the conference and not address that," he argued.