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Comrades tell Phillips to help get PNP re-elected

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

While some Comrades would like for Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips to get the opportunity to lead the country, political stalwarts share his view that the immediate focus must be on winning the upcoming general election for the People's National Party (PNP).

Senator K.D. Knight, a former member of the House of Representatives, told The Gleaner that he is one of those zooming in on victory at the polls over all else at this time.

"I am not focussed on party leader and prime minister at this time," said Knight.

"I am focussed on the party being re-elected so that the Government can continue to do the things that are necessary to take the country out of the difficulties confronting it."

Knight backed Phillips in his failed attempt to succeed P.J. Patterson as PNP president in 2006 and in 2008 when he challenged sitting president Portia Simpson Miller and was defeated. Phillips had challenged Simpson Miller after she led the PNP to a general election defeat in 2007, sending the PNP into opposition for the first time in 18 years.




Simpson Miller, 70, rebounded to shepherd the PNP to a massive 42-21 win in the 63-seat House of Representatives in 2011. She is again expected to lead the PNP into another general election this year.

Heather Robinson, another outspoken former parliamentarian who supported that Phillips in his failed PNP leadership bids, said that Phillips is well-prepared for the job of prime minister should that day come.

"If the opportunity should arise, I believe that he has proven himself to be worthy of the People's National Party's confidence as well as that of the Jamaican electorate," said Robinson.

The 66-year-old Phillips has so far served as national security, transport, health, and finance minister. His current portfolio has seen him presiding over Jamaica's economic reform programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), leading Jamaica to 11 consecutive successful quarterly tests.

Phillips, the campaign director for the PNP, said while he would be honoured to serve as prime minister, that is not on his mind at this point. He said that the two immediate tasks at hand are bolstering the economic foundations of the country to achieve growth, development, and job creation, and guiding the PNP to victory under Simpson Miller's leadership.




Phillips is on a high after a last-quarter economic growth of 1.5 per cent in 2015.

"I believe that whenever public or private sector workers do well, they deserve to be commended and when the opportunity arises, to be promoted," Robinson said.

Reverton Bailey, an avid political observer who describes himself as a firm Simpson Miller supporter, said that he would like to see the day when Phillips ascends to the zenith of the political ladder.

"Yes, I will support him when the time comes," he said. "He has a special ability for taking on big projects and getting things done."

Bailey opined that Phillips also has the ability to work with the civil service, which few seem capable of doing.

"He has been extensively prepared by his involvement in all levels of party work," Bailey added. "Over the years, he has built a reputation for being a man of his word."