Hello! Hello! Is the Government there?
Suzanne Leslie-Bailey, Guest Columnist
I am astounded at the recent revelation of this People's National Party (PNP) Government's wanton waste of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars on exorbitant cellular calls totalling $5 million. But then again, why am I even shocked? This PNP Government is well known for unconscionable spending and for showing a blatant disregard for the dire plight of the Jamaican people.
As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, 'Portia's flights of fancy', the prime minister's comment that the opposition leader's piercing questions about her frequent overseas trips were driven by jealousy was simplistic at best. Therefore, I would not be surprised if the prime minister, as a defence, states that JLP members are just jealous, as they have no one to call or no one is calling them.
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson had stated in 2003, at the annual PNP conference, that "more people have car than anytime else. More people have phone than anytime else. More man have gal than anytime else."
The affable late minister of agriculture and fisheries, Roger Clarke, at a PNP conference some years ago, boastfully showed how the PNP Government at the time, in his opinion, was expanding the mobile telephone industry by putting two cellular phones to his ears and pretending to use one to call the other as he shouted, "Hello! Hello!" You will notice a trend of flippant comments on the part of the PNP leadership.
It is clear that things are falling apart and the centre cannot hold. I, like so many other Jamaicans, am frustrated with the current dismantled state of our economy and country as a whole. I am going to call Prime Minister Simpson Miller.
Me: Hello, good morning. May I please speak with the prime minister?
OPM: I'm sorry, but the prime minister is travelling at this time. She has gone to Timbuktu on a special 10-day conference, accompanied by a 10-member delegation, to reconnect with our ancestors and to learn more about our African heritage.
Me: What? There are so many grave issues of concern here at home that require the leader of the country's attention.
Let me now see if I can speak to Minister Peter Phillips - second in line.
Me: Hello, is Dr Peter Phillips in?
MOF: I am sorry, but the minister is out of office. He is on a few days' study leave as he has a big IMF Test coming up. Can anyone else help?
Me:frustrated sigh I wanted to speak to him about the constant rising prices, the slide in the Jamaican dollar, and his nonsensical notion that devaluation can drive exports.
Me: Hello, Minister Fenton Ferguson, please.
MOH: I'm sorry, but the minister is not in office. He is on a tour of the mosquito-breeding sites in St Thomas with the hope of catching chikungunya.
Me: I needed to speak to him urgently about the disgraceful state of the health sector.
Me: Hello, is Minister Anthony Hylton in office?
MIIC: I'm sorry, but the minister is on a break. He is staring into space, with a quizzical expression on his face. Do you want to leave a message? I'll have the minister call you as soon as he comes out of his stupor.
Me: I wanted to speak to him about this logistics hub pipe dream as a study has revealed that the Goat Islands is not the best choice for a trans-shipment port - this, after the PNP government was touting it.
Me: Hello, may I please speak with Minister Peter Bunting?
MNS: Ma'am, the minister is out of office. He is at a Portland villa and will not be back until Monday. You can try back then.
Me: Listen, I wanted to speak to him about the recent spate of killings.
I am frustrated. I cannot reach any of the senior ministers of Government. Let me try my luck with the juniors.
Me: Hello, is Minister Damion Crawford in office?
MTE: No, I'm sorry, but the minister is in London shelling dung the place and then will make his way to Trinidad for carnival, where he will meet up with his colleague minister, Lisa Hanna.
I am not going to lose hope in the young. Let me try another junior minister.
Me: Hello, may I
please speak with Minister Arnaldo
Hold one moment, please, the minister is on a call.
I'm sorry, the minister is on another call. Ma'am, are you still there?
The minister is still on that call. Do you still want to hold? The
minister is still on that call ... still on that call ... still on that
call ... making another call ... making another call ... making another
Oh, no wonder he has a $1-million
phone bill. I wonder how much my cell phone bill will be after calling
all these absentee ministers. Oh, well, no matter the cost, at least it
will not cost the Jamaican taxpayers.