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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 17, 2017: The Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, M.P., today, thanked the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director, Mrs. Christine Lagarde for supporting the 2013 agreement signed by the PNP led-government and the Fund. This agreement was the blueprint for Jamaica’s economic reform programme, which laid the foundation for sustained economic growth and job creation.

In her comments at the IMF’s High Level Caribbean Forum yesterday at the Pegasus Hotel, Mrs. Lagarde noted the successful implementation of the standby agreement five years ago and recalled that at the time of the rollout, very few persons thought it would have seen the tremendous level of success it achieved.

During a courtesy call paid by Mrs. Lagarde on the Opposition Leader at his West King’s House Road office, with Shadow Ministers Mark Golding, Peter Bunting, Anthony Hylton and Fenton Ferguson in attendance, Dr. Phillips reiterated his appreciation for the IMF chief’s personal role in securing the 2013 stand-by agreement that enabled Jamaica to see to the reduction in the country’s debt and the decrease in stifling tensions that gripped the nation’s financial structures.

Dr. Phillips told the IMF chief that the people of Jamaica sacrificed much to ensure the success of the programme, but shared concerns about implementation issues in the current agreement in relation to public sector transformation and lagging economic growth. He said the unabated rise in rampant criminality has been a particular drag on the economy and eroding the gains that have been made over the past years.

He said further that the benefits of any growth must be spread widely to include the provision of improved social services and enhanced quality of education for the nation’s children.

Dr. Phillips said, while the nation continues to be an example of fiscal achievement under the IMF interventions, too many of our people are not enjoying the benefits as in most cases their standards of living have fallen. Jamaica must focus on the fundamental structural impediments to growth, which will result in improved standards of living.

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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 17, 2017: Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips is expressing sadness at the passing of the late chairman of the RJR/Gleaner Group Lester Spaulding.

Jamaica and the media fraternity have lost one of its giants, he was a patriotic Jamaican who always considered a free and fair press to be a part of good governance in the country.

The local and regional media fraternity has lost a pioneer, devoted advocate and consummate friend, Dr. Phillips said.

He said that Mr. Spaulding who was a professional accountant, was a visionary who was particularly instrumental in establishing and modernizing the media landscape in Jamaica and the region.

“He was a giant in the industry and the nation will cherish his legacy of building the RJR into a multi-platform communication entity.”

Dr. Phillips said Mr. Spaulding was central to the merger of the RJR/Gleaner Group and that this vibrant entity, that he led up to the time of his passing, continues to be a leader in the industry, a bastion of credibility that faithfully serves Jamaicans at home and abroad.

 “I’m offering my heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of Mr. Spaulding and by extension the RJR/Gleaner family and the wider media fraternity,”Dr. Phillips said.

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Lambert Brown, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 16, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister on the Public Service Senator Lambert Brown is deeply concerned about the slow pace with which the Government is approaching the Public Sector Wage negotiations with the thousands of public sector workers and their Trade Unions.

The public sector workers have been due increased salaries and improved benefits since April of this year, but the Government has been showing no flexibility in what must be described as its snail-paced approach to the negotiations with the hard working and dedicated civil servants, police, teachers, nurses, fire fighters, correctional officers and other employees in the public sector.

The Opposition Senator is calling on the Government to immediately enter into real negotiations with a more responsive offer that will eliminate the risk of disruption to the society and the fragile economy which could arise from legitimate industrial action by the public sector bodies.

Senator Brown decries the fact that some teachers are effectively being offered an increase of less than $400 per month, which would hardly make a difference in view of increased taxation and higher costs of living over the contract period.

He notes that an increase of $400 per month means the teacher could not buy a patty and drink at the end of a week from the increase offered. This shameful position must be urgently corrected by the Government. 

On the eve of the launch of Civil Service Week, the Opposition Senator is urging the Government to take the appropriate steps to bring relief to the public sector employees.

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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 12, 2017:  The President of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips says that every effort must be made to effectively enforce the nation’s anti-corruption laws as the only way to successfully free Jamaica from the death grip of corruption. 

Dr. Phillips was speaking at the Karram Speid Hall, St. Andrew graduation of 434 community leaders and key actors who participated in a training programme mounted jointly by the National Integrity Action (NIA) and Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS). The graduates are trained to engage in the national fight against corruption.

Pointing to the fact that the country has fallen 14 places in its ranking in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in recent years, Dr. Phillips lamented the apparent disregard by the Andrew Holness led-administration to existing laws and rulings made by anti-corruption bodies such as the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).  

Dr Phillips said there are too many instances where there are reported breaches, certified by the Contractor General, where no action is taken at all. “There are persons in breach of the Parliamentary Integrity of Members Act, but no prosecutions ensue. This is a situation that must be corrected with some urgency because it not only threatens the legitimacy of the political system as people lose confidence in the integrity of their national leaders, but it spreads an even more disturbing phenomenon, which is a general acceptance that corrupt behaviour is normal.”

The Opposition Leader pointed out that corruption has taken over important public services such as with the motor vehicle examiner’s division, law enforcement and other critical agencies of the state. This, he says, helps to destroy the basic fabric of trust which is essential to any progressive society. 

“It is becoming increasingly clear that all efforts for economic and social advancement, and to arrest the spiralling crime rate are being undermined by increasing corruption at all levels of the society,” he lamented.

“The situation is not going to be helped by merely talking about it. We must lead by example and activism. This means starting at the top. It hardly helps when there is no response to reports of rampant corruption from the highest levels,” Dr Phillips argued. 

Dr. Phillips hailed the training programme conducted by the two charity organizations and said the transformative value of this approach can be seen in what has been achieved by the partnership forged by the Church and the NIA in Spanish Town.

In commending the graduates, Dr Phillips said recent successes in August Town show what communities can be mobilised to do to advance their own interests through community action.

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Donna Scott Mottley, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 12, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) notes with alarm and dismay the blatant breach of trust by the Andrew Holness led administration regarding the much discussed National Identity Systems Bill.

The PNP notes in particular clause 41 which provides that Jamaicans will not be able to access public services without having their National Identification. 

The Party is shocked and disappointed at the action of the government to deny Jamaicans access to essential services on any account. 

By way of bi-partisan agreement in the Lower House, it was also accepted that persons without identification would not be denied access to essential services such as health, water, fire services, police services etc.


Having left the Lower House with this agreed position by Government and Opposition, the Government is seeking to change this provision and replace it with one that is less secured.

The Opposition decries the back door action of the Government and the way in which it has treated this Bill. This represents a betrayal of the trust placed in it and does nothing to foster confidence and bi partisan collaboration.

We therefore call on the government to stop, rethink and do not change the provision.  We further again call on the government to consult in a real and meaningful way, enlist the views of Jamaicans before using its majority to pass this far reaching and unreasonable bill.

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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 11, 2017:  The People’s National Party’s (PNP) President, Dr. Peter Phillips says, the midnight amendments to the National Identification System Bill, which were introduced in a marathon session in the Senate on Friday further underscores the need for the Bill to be sent before a Joint Select Committee where all the contentious issues can be hammered out. 

Dr. Phillips, who had urged the government during the debate in the lower house to send the Bill to a select committee when it was first piloted, says he stands with the Opposition Senators and the many Jamaicans from churches and civic organisations who raised their voices in protection of the rights of the people.

Senator KD. Knight led the Opposition team on insisting that public consultations need to be held prior to any passage and signing-off of the Bill.

Other Opposition Senators were forthright in their stance that the speed and process to the passing of this Bill, which will require every Jamaica to surrender so much personal information, was not in the best interest of Parliamentary democracy, nor the interest of all Jamaicans.

Senator Floyd Morris, who was unable to peruse the amendments presented to the House yesterday morning as he needed the document to be converted to a format that he could access, was insulted by the leader of government business, Senator, the Hon. Kamina Johnston-Smith.

Dr. Phillips says, Senator Johnson-Smith’s response sums up the general disregard that the government has displayed towards the nation’s vulnerable communities.

The need for government to take into account the realities of the disabled is a critical one, Dr Phillips outlined in a meeting he had with the Disabled community in July, while on his Listening Tour. 

“Senator Johnston-Smith needs to step forward and not only apologize, but also to clearly assure Jamaicans with disabilities that they are not second-class citizens in their own country. “

The debate continues Monday.

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Damion Crawford, Press Releases

Political commitment to the entertainment industry requires a mindset that entertainment is not only a legitimate business but also an industry that Jamaica will depend on for micro if not macro economic viability. Political and thus governmental commitment to the Entertainment Industry can only evolve from the understanding that the factory that hired one hundred people (100) in the 1980’s is now hiring ten (10) people because of mechanization and automation. Simply put, in the field of manufacturing, construction and even farming, machines have replaced human beings. 

The above mentioned reality therefore demands an acceptance that adults can only survive independently if they have access to income which can only come in one of two forms, namely profit or wages. Since the opportunities for earning from wages are being dramatically reduced by machines, taking away humans employment opportunities then more persons who were once in the working class(surviving from wages) now have to strive to be in the capital class (surviving from profits).

However, because of lack of access to capital these individuals must seek to participate in non-traditional industries that has much less barriers to entry. Over the last thirty (30) years we have seen the movement of more and more persons without high access to capital becoming entrepreneurs in taxis, vending (to include ICI), retail (to include corner shops) and entertainment (to include performing artist and promoters). 

One must also note that in the last decade these “industries for the poor” have come under extreme governmental and market driven pressure. Chinese wholesales are pressuring if not eradicating corner shops, government policy is consistently increasing the burden on taxi operators both from the point of entering the industry and the point of remaining in the industry, vendors are always on the run from the authorities and entertainment has been pressured by the Noise Abatement Act as well as wanton refusal of permits as a part of “crime fighting”.

In short all of the above can be captured in one statement which argues that in an effort to survive legally most persons without a lot of resources will either have to either sell something (vending, retail, transport service) or keep something (entertainment). 

To this extent government policy must be developed to support these industries for the poor, no less than there has been government policy to support other industries such as tourism, mining, manufacturing etc. Further, these industries should be supported in spite of their nuisance though steps must be taken to mitigate the nuisance. Mining comes with a dust and noise nuisance, tourism comes with its own nuisances, farming with its own nuisances yet none of these industries have been injured by Government policy for its nuisance as has vending and entertainment been attacked and curtailed because of their nuisances.

As I have repeated, on many occasions, I have no doubt that current Minister of Culture, Hon Babsy Grange, understands the potential and importance of entertainment. I also think more than most other practitioners in Government currently or before Minister Grange has the will to encourage entertainment as a legitimate industry for the poor. This is so as Minister grange has seen first hand how entertainment can transform the economic realities of individuals with relatively low investments.

Concern:

I am however concerned about the piecemeal way in which the Entertainment Zone was re-announced by the Ministry of Culture and will explain my concerns below 

NOISE ABATEMENT

The enforcement and some would argue the implementation of the Noise Abatement Act is one of our greatest examples of social prejudice. It applies, in the main, only to small events as I have never seen it applied to Sumfest, Sting, Carnival, Jazz and Blues or any other large event with connected promoters. Then we scoff at the statement that in this country there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

The entertainment zone cannot be efficiently implemented without a change being made to the Noise Abatement Act which currently does not facilitate special consideration for location. This is seen, especially outside of Kingston and St. Andrew, where events are being moved to areas which are out of earshot in places which are inhabited by only ‘peenie wallies’. Yet these events outside of earshot are being affected because the law as is universal. 

The Noise Abatement Act is under the Ministry of Security, however general agreement was reached with the Ministry and the changes were being made to the act in 2015 at that time it was to be sent for drafting.  Improvement to the Noise Abatement Act must be focused on the term nuisance which requires both reach and disagreement. Reach meaning the ability to affect and disagreement meaning that those who are reached are bothered by it. 

It be noted that there are communities that depend on events for economic gain and therefore are in agreement with them being held thus it isn’t a nuisance. However the law being universal does not consider these communities such as Ray Town that depend on these events for which the majority of residents are in agreement.

Town and Country Planning Act 

For the Zones to work effectively there must be changes to the way in which events are approved through the parish councils. This change must be done to allow for promoters to apply for extension when applying for the permits. The law then will have to be changed to have events being applied for no less than two (2) weeks before the event and to indicate upon application that they are interested to be considered for an extension under one of 4 categories namely 

  1. Category 1: Zone A which is twenty four (24) hours and the extension permit is automatic for venues in that Zone.  Palisadoes stretch was identified as one such Zone A

 

  1. Category 2: Zone B which is in commercial areas such as HWT, Downtown, Cross Roads. These were, in particular, the parking lots in these commercial areas. In this zone extension permit is automatic to 4am. Downtown was identified as one such zone and 9 parking lots were sound tested to ensure limited impact on surrounding communities. 6 parking lots were approved and that information was left at the ministry 

 

 

  1. Category 3: Zone C which are community zones such as a community centre. For a community zone at least 60% of residents must sign to the space being a community zone as well as the days for which it is a zone. Therefore Deans Valley community may say the community centre is a zone on Fridays and Saturdays up to 4am. To the contrary Mona may say the play ground is a zone on public holidays up to 4am. While still another community may say the basketball court is a zone during summer months up until 4am. Extension permits comes through application to the extension committee in the parish councils and disagreement can be noted and considered from residents event by event 

 

  1. Category 4: Zone D which is a temporary zone for a particular venue on a particular night. extension permits for zone D can only be gotten by appearing before the extension committee. Application for zone D is published in the newspaper 2 weeks before to facilitate residents communication of resistance to extension 

The parish council extension committee make would be as follows 

  • Custos of the parish as chairman 
  • Mayor or Mayors rep
  • Parish Development Committee rep
  • Entertainment practitioners rep
  • Ministry of Culture Rep 

All of this was done and even the new application form was drafted and agreed to for the parish councils to use.

 

Fort Rocky 

Fort Rocky was identified as the 1st venue in the Palisadoes entertainment Zone. One venue cannot be a zone simple demand and supply would make that venue unaffordable as promoters compete every night for the single venue. Fort Rocky was to be the Government investment to entice other private investors to build venues such as the old coal wharf, go cart track and other areas along the Palisadoes. The strip, however, would also need government investment in the following 

  • Ranger service for the policing of the environment 
  • A parking lot as the zone users will be convinced to park and shuttle 
  • A Detox area … remember events include alcohol and the zones are by design far away from homes and in likely unfamiliar spaces 

I envisioned designing fort rocky as a break out venue that could be for one large event or for a 3000 person event simultaneously by screwing in fence post and running temporary fencing. However Fort Rocky would have to be followed almost immediately with a call for private proposals for venues in the zone.  If this isn’t done the zone will be an effort in futility.

All of this was done and the information exist in the ministry 

Promoter Registry:

If promoters are not registered then all the above is for naught. Why would I go to a zone if I can extend my own event without repercussions? Only a registered promoter should be allowed to apply to keep an event. If the rules are breached continuously then the promoter can lose his license and therefore can’t get a permit to promote events after losing the licence. How this would be done, how complaints can be made, how the promoter can defend himself have all been outlined and left at the Ministry.

In closing, I am happy to see the continuation of our efforts to establish an entertainment zone but I fear that it will fail if implemented in a piecemeal way. As well the zone is not the objective the zone is one of the strategy to facilitate entertainment as a legitimate industry while reducing the possible nuisance that comes with producing events.

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Mikael Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 7, 2017: The People’s National Party is extremely concerned at the escalating public protests and road blocks over the deteriorating road infrastructure in many parishes and the apparent lack of response by the government and local authorities with responsibility for the road network. 

In a statement this afternoon, the party Shadow Minister of Transport and Works, Mikael Phillips said, the wanton lack of maintenance of the nation’s road network by the Andrew Holness led-administration has now resulted in a series of public protests in St. Thomas, Clarendon, Westmoreland, St. James and St. Catherine with life-threatening consequences. The absence of any ongoing road maintenance programme, coupled with the heavy rains that have been pelting the island over the past months have combined to ensure greater hardship for Jamaicans in their communities all over the island.

The PNP Spokesman said, it is an attitude of callousness on the part of government to ignore months of protest by the people, demanding that their roads be repaired.  The continuous non-response is causing increasing frustration and daily escalation of demonstrations as no one speaks to the people, or has even acknowledged their plight, including the obvious danger some of these roads pose to life and limb.  

The spokesman said, he is very concerned as large sections of the nation’s road network have been left to waste away while the public coffers are being raided for political endeavors and there are claims of lack of money to address these roads.  This is also happening against reports that the roadway to the Prime Minister’s unoccupied residence in Beverly Hills is being expanded to improve access.

Mr. Phillips said, the people of St. Thomas and St. James have been crying out in daily protests to no avail. In those parishes, in particular, the protests have impacted negatively on schools and economic activities as workers and students were not able to pass the road blocks.

He said, the government in its callous approach is failing to make the link between maintenance of the nation’s infrastructure and the lack of growth, especially in the farming and industrial sectors. Instead, they continue to dole out road repairs in a partisan manner, robbing taxpayers of the right to good and proper services from the national agencies. 

Against this background, the party is sounding an early warning about an imminent massive road work project which is to be undertaken shortly.  Based on preliminary reports, the design and allocation are similar to the previous programme, which ensured that constituencies held by Jamaica Labour Party members enjoyed a disproportionate share of the allocation. 

The PNP calls on the Holness government to immediately do what is necessary to address the poor state of the country’s road infrastructure and ensure that the allocation for repairs to the road network is devoid of partisanship. The situation has impacted too many of our people across the island, who chose to live, work and raise their families here.

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Julian Robinson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 7, 2017:  The People’s National Party (PNP) rejects completely suggestions by JLP’s General Secretary, Dr. Horace Chang that the party is “responsible for damage to public property, loss of income, school time as well as injuries to innocent Jamaicans.”  The response by JLP’s General Secretary to the protests by Jamaicans over the condition of the road network across the island is silly and quite laughable. 

In a statement today, the General Secretary of the PNP, Julian Robinson said, the party supports the right of Jamaicans to engage in peaceful protests, but at no time organised any of the road blocks and demonstrations now taking place in several places across several parishes.  

Dr. Chang should not confuse or make light of this spontaneous move of the people demanding action from an elected government over the obvious deterioration of the road network and the persistent non-response from central or local authorities.

The PNP General Secretary said, instead of trying to blame the PNP, it would be better for Dr. Chang, as a Minister in the responsible Ministry, to tell the protesters when their roads will be repaired.  The people have no more patience for another series of empty promises, not after the wanton spending of public funds and allocation of resources in the recent by-election in South East St. Mary, and the expansion of the roadway leading to the Beverly Hills private residence of the Prime Minister.

The JLP General Secretary should be totally ashamed of his government’s performance in infrastructure maintenance and development. Every project now underway is a direct result the MIDP which was developed and financed under the PNP government.

Mr. Robinson suggested that Chang ceases his shameless behaviour and respond to the open protest now taking place in at least five parishes so the people can resume their normal daily activities.

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 6, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) is alarmed at the reported blatant breach of the rules governing the use of a firearm by former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Mr. Trevor Webb; and is calling on the police to immediately take over responsibility for the investigation of the incident from the Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA).

Shadow Minister on National Security, Mr. Fitz Jackson has written to Police Commissioner George Quallo on this troubling development. 

In a statement today, the party said it viewed the issue with utmost seriousness based on the prevailing crime and murder environment in Jamaica. It said based on a report in the Gleaner newspaper of Saturday, November 4, 2017, coupled with the on-going investigation by the Major Organised and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) in the sale of firearm licenses to friends, cronies and the well-connected, the party has no confidence in the FLA’s administrative leadership to properly investigate and resolve this matter. 

The PNP considers this matter to be a breach of the Firearms Act, which demands a serious and deliberate set of actions to determine whether the former JLP candidate is in breach of any criminal law and should be sanctioned.  The FLA is not the appropriate body to investigate a possible breach of the criminal offence.

Based on a video that has appeared on social media and referenced in the Gleaner report, Mr. Webb engaged in the shooting of bottles set as targets in the hands and on the head of another man, in an open display of western-style bravado.  In the video, Webb and the other persons at the scene can be heard celebrating that all three bullets had gone “clean through the centre” of the bottles, including the one that was on the man’s head. 

Although the newspaper story reported Webb as claiming that the bullets were not real, the recorded expression of the group confirms that the bullets had the capacity to pierce flesh as they had proven that they could penetrate plastic bottles. This contradiction is even more reason for a police investigation to determine whether live rounds were used in the gimmickry.  It should be noted too that even if the bullets were not real, an offence could still have been committed.

This reckless and unlawful behaviour speaks not only to poor judgement, but also to an outright disregard for the law and regulations as well as established good governance and order. Webb, who is himself a former police officer, and one who sought election to the nation’s legislative body makes a mockery of Jamaica’s system of firearm regulation, which is now reeling from the recent scandal at the FLA. 

The PNP notes that the Firearm Licencing Authority (FLA) has been asked to handle this matter, but there is no indication that there is any criminal investigation so far. This begs the question, is Mr. Webb, based on his political association, above the law?

It also remains curious that the FLA, headed by another former JLP candidate, Mr. Shane Dalling, is handling this critical matter involving his political party colleague. Is an impartial outcome possible?  

This is yet another example of unacceptable governance issues being created by the Holness Administration’s penchant to place political operatives in sensitive positions.  The PNP said this matter had serious prosecutorial implications and it would be watching very carefully.

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