Opposition intensifies protest over delayed polls, high inflation
The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) on Monday ramped up protest action and critique of the Holness-led administration as members of the party hierarchy and supporters took to the streets of Spanish Town, St Catherine.
In addition to the renewing calls for the urgent staging of local government elections, the party called for an end to the importation of ganja from Canada and for the Government to protect vulnerable Jamaicans in the face of increasing inflation and a rising cost of living.
“There are some issues of concern, and we don’t believe that the Government is paying attention to the critical issues confronting the people,” Campbell said.
“It is becoming extremely hard to live in Jamaica at this time the cost of living has spiralled out of control so that the average person is finding it hard to provide for their families,” he added.
Campbell charged that the Government is violating the legal framework that provides for a fixed timeline for holding local government elections, which was done to take away the manipulation of the process by political parties.
“What they are doing annually is to amend the law and the justification that it was done in the past is not sufficient,” Campbell said, adding that the PNP is not in a historical debate with the Government about what happened in the past when there was no such law.
Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government Natalie Neita Garvey also stressed that the 2016 adjustment to the Local Governance Act was to allow for the polls to be free from manipulation.
“Jamaicans have put their lives on hold waiting for this election. Persons in the Parliament who are MPs (members of parliament) are now playing the role of councillors in vacant divisions,” she said.
Energised party base
Neita Garvey dismissed the reasons given by the Government for the fourth postponement of the polls last month, adding that the Holness administration is aware that the results would be unfavourable to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
In the meantime, Campbell credited the PNP’s favourable standing in recent polls it commissioned to a re-engaged and energised party base.
The poll, which was conducted by the Don Anderson-led Market Research Survey Limited and the findings of which were publicly released over the past week, revealed that 28.1 per cent of voters would support the PNP if a general election were called today. This compares to 27.9 per cent for the JLP. Nineteen per cent of those polled were unsure, while 25 per cent said they would not be voting.
“If you look at the numbers, it is not just a fall from where the Labour Party was last year that has brought them down to where the PNP was. It is that the PNP has increased significantly,” Campbell noted.
He conceded that the party still has a lot of work with the candidate-selection process still under way in five constituencies.
St Catherine South MP Fitz Jackson pointed to what he described as a ploy by the Government to use its majority in Parliament to block a banking fee bill which he had tabled.
Claiming that the Government was not for the poor, Jackson said the act was designed to protect operators of small businesses, pensioners, and young people, who get their money through the bank.