John Myers Jr, Gleaner Writer
Pleading with Jamaicans to give it more time to deliver, the People's National Party (PNP) is insisting that it is capable of lifting the country out of the current economic abyss and attending to the plethora of social ills gripping the nation.
"On the ground, people are feeling the pain, and I'm not going to pretend that's not so," PNP General Secretary Peter Bunting conceded during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's Kingston offices last Thursday.
"I don't think it is unreasonable to expect or unreasonable to ask for some allowance of time for this administration … ."
Dogged by successive tenures that have been beset by anaemic economic growth at best, and a corresponding rise in social ills such as crime and high unemployment, Bunting is contending that at this time, the PNP is the best party to lead the country and assured that Jamaicans will begin to see a turnaround in the economy by the end of the year into next year, when the current administration would have reached midway in its term in office.
FIVE QUARTERS OF DECLINE
Last month, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported that the Jamaican economy had contracted a further 0.4 per cent during the second quarter of the year. This marked the fifth consecutive quarter of decline, although it was slower than the 1.3 per cent recorded in the first quarter.
However, Bunting's optimism appears to be supported by the PIOJ, which is forecasting modest growth of between 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent for the economy in the third quarter from expected improvements in production and the return to positive growth of major industries.
The PNP general secretary pointed to the Obama administration in United States, where the world's largest economy only began showing signs of recovery three years after the change in government, and so, Jamaicans should expect a similar turnaround by next year.
He claimed that while Jamaicans were enduring increased hardships as a result of the implementation of austerity measures by his administration, forcibly triggered by a near US$1 billion economic-support programme from the International Monetary Fund, voters were not putting the blame on the PNP, given the forecast of a harsh period by the previous Jamaica Labour Party administration.
"I don't think they're putting the blame on the PNP for that because from the very mouth of the prime minister at the time, he had predicted, in 2011, "bitter medicine", so people are not stupid," said Bunting, who is currently the minister of national security.