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Angela Brown Burke, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Local Government, the Hon. Desmond McKenzie to rename the present infirmaries as adult residential care facilities. There has been general agreement by all local government advocates that this is an appropriate development. We note that the Minister has indicated the Government’s approval of amendments to the Poor Relief Act to abolish the Board of Supervision, and transfer those functions to the Ministry of Local Government. 

 

We remind the Minister that a central role of local authorities continues to be that of protecting the poor and vulnerable; that the municipal corporations are still the institutions best placed to do so, given their experience and expertise developed over the years.

 

The PNP will be monitoring this exercise and paying keen attention to the allocation of resources and physical improvement of these facilities, especially since we are convinced that a name change is not sufficient to provide the level of care required to residents in these facilities. 

 

The major issue will remain one of financial and other resources to provide an appropriate level of care. Whether these institutions are under the direct supervision of the Ministry or the local authority, there is no doubt that the Government of Jamaica must provide an effective social safety net to cushion the negative impact of the anaemiceconomic growth of the Jamaican economy. 

 

The PNP calls on all Mayors and Councillors as well as civil society to help monitor the standard of care, physical environment, and programmes of reintegration, which will be provided by these residential care facilities. 

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 29, 2017:  People’s National Party chairman, Fitz Jackson is off the island until December 9, attending a high level meeting of experts, scholars and political representatives in the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Jackson was invited by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to participate in the talks with a view to explore how best to build communities of a shared, beautiful and equitable future for mankind. The discussions will posit solutions to the various challenges facing human societies.

Mr. Jackson returns to the island December 9.

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Michael Stewart, Press Releases

Deputy Shadow Minister of Education, Michael Stewart supports the islands’ teachers in their call on the Government for an increase in their salaries.

The teachers of Jamaica have endured five years of wage restraint and their disposable income is at its lowest. Many of the islands’ teachers are struggling and are barely surviving.

“The Government made promises to increase the salaries of the teachers and other public sector workers during the lead up to the 2016 General elections and I humbly request that this commitment be honoured.” Mr. Stewart said.

With end of year examinations due to begin next week, there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty prevailing in the Education System.

“I therefore ask the Government to heed the teachers’ call and return to the bargaining table, in order to prevent any disruption in the Education System.”

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 27, 2017: People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security Fitz Jackson says, the so-called crime initiatives announced by the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Security at yesterday’s JLP conference are a combination of old, stale, tried and failed policies, being resurrected after fifty years in the tomb.

The proposal for mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for gun crimes was already largely implemented in 2010 among the so-called “Crime Bills” of that year.  That measure has failed to stem the tide, and the rate of gun-related murders has spiraled out of control in 2016-2017.

As regards the denial of bail, this is another rehash of a failed measure that was attempted in the “Crime Bills” 2010. Those provisions were struck down by the Court as an unconstitutional usurpation of the presumption of innocence that is well-established in Jamaican jurisprudence.  Mr. Jackson says the Party’s Parliamentary group is serving notice that they will not agree to legislation with provisions which have already been tried and rejected by the society.

For the government to return with the same proposal seven years later, shows the total bankruptcy of ideas in the JLP administration under Andrew Holness.

The Shadow Minister has called on the government to have a genuine national consultation on crime and devise a workable plan to facilitate efficient crime fighting by a police force which is well resourced, well managed and protected from political interference other than general policy direction.

It has taken the Holness administration over six months to respond to the party’s request to replenish the Legal Defence Fund for the police so that officers who are charged for offences in the course of their duties, so they do not have to worry about finding huge legal fees.

The party is happy that the Prime Minister has finally come to his senses on this one issue, by announcing that a provision will be made in the upcoming Supplementary Estimates.

The Shadow Minister once again calls on the government to ensure proper checks and balances over INDECOM’s investigative and prosecutorial powers, by implementing the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations to amend the INDECOM Act by establishing a non-executive Board of Commissioners with governance oversight over the executive management of that body. The Party notes that this beneficial structure has been retained by the Government in the recently-enacted Integrity Commission Bill, and the PNP again calls for its adoption in relation to INDECOM. The Prime Minister cannot just wring his hands and complain about INDECOM’s over-reach without taking the necessary steps to prevent it.

Mr. Jackson said both the Prime Minister and the Security Minister yesterday did nothing to enhance the security environment in Jamaica or the confidence of the Jamaican people. It is clear that the government has no clue as to how to effectively deal with the sharp increase in murders and shootings which has now become a violence contagion particularly in western parishes and Clarendon. The government must provide workable solutions to halt the national fright which is at large islandwide, especially because they used the crime issue as a major plank of their election campaign, promising Jamaicans that they would be able to sleep with their windows and doors open.

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NEC, Press Releases
At a meeting of the People’s National Party, National Executive Council on Sunday, November 26, 2017 at the Manchester High School three resolutions were debated and unanimously passed. These resolutions are, The NIDS Resolution, Resolution on Public Sector Wage Negotiations and Resolution on Crime. Details of all three resolutions are described below:

RESOLUTION National Identification and Registration System Bill


WHEREAS the JLP Members of Parliament led by the Speaker of the House and Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday November 22, 2017 committed egregious breaches of Parliamentary standing orders, rules and practices by:

  • Failing or refusing to allow a debate and vote on a motion presented by the Prime Minister to defer consideration of the National Identification and Registration System Bill (the Bill)
  • Failing or refusing to allow a debate and vote on a motion presented by the Leader of the Opposition for the Bill to be referred to a Joint Committee of Parliament
  • Resuming the sitting of the House two hours after a suspension instead of at the end of the stipulated 20 minute suspension period as required

WHEREAS this development represented the government’s continued refusal to allow the Bill to face the full scrutiny of the public and the views of key civil society groupings, including the Jamaican Bar Association, who have formally indicated their desire to participate in the formulation of such a far-reaching Bill

WHEREAS the government in total disregard for the primacy of the people in making good and just laws proceeded to purportedly pass the Bill in the above circumstances

WHEREAS the People’s National Party is supportive of and have previously led efforts to advance the process for a national identification system but does not support the Bill in its current form as it still requires further refining because:

  1. It encroaches on the rights and privacy of every single Jamaican and gives no assurance that this data will be protected
  2. With the Bill raising issues concerning data security, its protection and how it is shared, it was of critical importance that the Data Protection Act ought to have been debated before or at the same time
  3. It calls for mandatory registration with a huge fine for failure to register, and
  4. It would deny essential and critical goods and services such as light, water and health to Jamaicans in their own country and in breach of their constitutional rights to equitable treatment

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

  1. This NEC commends and supports the Parliamentary Opposition in its strong defence of the rights of the Jamaican people in the debates in the two Houses of Parliament which resulted in 268 amendments to the Bill.

  1. This NEC condemns the unworthy and unparliamentary behaviour of the JLP in its egregious breaches of Parliamentary standing orders, rules and practices and seeking to pass the Bill in such circumstances.

  1. This NEC supports the Parliamentary Opposition in the Lower House in its decision not to return to the House to give credibility to the ongoing travesty and after the Speaker in breach of Parliamentary rules failed to re-convene the sitting at the end of the 20 minutes suspension.

  1. This NEC calls on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to respect the rights of the Jamaican people and make an effort to restore some decency and credibility to the Parliament by returning this deeply flawed Bill to the Parliament before it is signed by the Governor General and referring it to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for review and allow the voice of the people, including civil society groupings to be heard and considered.

Resolution on Public Sector Wage negotiations


Whereas thousands of Public Sector workers including police, teachers, nurses, fire fighters, correctional officers, civil servants are due wage increases since April if this year, and


Whereas these workers have had to bear increases in the prices of goods and services arising from the burdensome tax packages imposed on the citizens of Jamaica by this JLP government, and


Whereas the government has offered a very insultive offer of 3% in each year of the contract period which is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of the public sector workers and their families, and


Whereas the workers and their Trade Unions have rejected this insulting offer and in some cases the workers have resorted to industrial action


Be it resolved that this meeting of PNP NEC expresses our solidarity with all public sector workers struggling for a decent wage offer from their employer


Be it further resolved that this NEC calls on the JLP government to find creative and flexible ways to meet the legitimate demands of the hard working and dedicated public sector workers who have sacrificed much to secure economic stability in recent years and


Be it further resolved that this NEC commend the approach of constructive consultation carried out by the previous PNP government which arrived at acceptable wage settlement with the public sector workers and their trade unions whilst preserving public sector jobs.


RESOLUTION CRIME

 

WHEREAS the numbers of persons murdered in Jamaica since the start of this year has reached over 1400, representing an increase of over 25% over the same period last year

WHEREAS in the last week alone there have been numerous cases of murders including multiple murders occurring in several parishes across the country – St James, Westmoreland, Hanover, Trelawny, St Ann, Clarendon, St Catherine and St Elizabeth

WHEREAS in the face of this significant and continuing increase in murders, including the killing of several women and children, the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Security and the rest of the Cabinet has remained silent, reflecting either an inability or unwillingness to protect the citizens of our Country

 

BE IT RESOLVED that the NEC of the PNP calls on the government to immediately re-motivate the demoralised men and women of the JCF by urgently:

1) providing a reasonable wage offer capable of resolving the wage dispute between the Jamaica Police Federation and the government; and 

2) providing adequate funds to cover legal expenses of courageous crime fighters who are required to appear before INDECOM or the Courts

 

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the government, as an urgent national priority, provides the necessary funding, material and human resources required by the Commissioner of Police to meet head-on the challenges to our national security and the lives of our citizens caused by the criminal gunmen and gangsters threatening the security and stability of our country


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the government immediately establishes and convenes a committee with broad-based membership comprising representatives of the government, the Opposition, the private sector, the churches, the trade unions, the public sector and the security forces to consider and make recommendations to the government for the creation and operation of a comprehensive and sustainable plan to combat and drastically reduce the unacceptable high level of murders in Jamaica

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Mikael Phillips, Press Releases

The People’s National Party is expressing its solidarity and deepest sympathy with the people of Montego Bay as they recover from a devastating calamity.  The Party notes the many residents, students and business owners who have been affected by this disaster, especially so close to the Christmas and exam season.  The Party is calling on residents to not spare efforts in ensuring their safety and hopes that normalcy will return soon. 

 

The Party notes that the Government has, over the last year, spent an unprecedented sum of money on drain cleaning and bushing of roads.  It is therefore puzzling as to why this large spend has not resulted in better mitigation of flooding, as happened in Montego Bay yesterday, and recently in Portland.  Shadow Minister of Transport and Works, Mikael Phillips said that “there has to be more accountability in how state resources are spent.  We can’t be increasing the spending on these issues yet when it is put to the test we have these devastations.  The public needs to be assured that the allocated sums are spent for the purposes they were allocated and that there is value for the money spent.”  Mr Phillips is calling on the Government to take disaster mitigation seriously and put measures in place to deal with these increasing occurrences.  He notes that a comprehensive programme and policy is what is needed, and not a piecemeal effort. 

 

The Party President, Dr Peter Phillips is reiterating his call for restoration and rehabilitation efforts, in situations like this, to be non-political and inclusive so that the widest cross-section of affected persons can be assisted.  He says the Party stands ready to assist in any way the Government sees fit. 

 

A team from the Party, led by Dr Wykeham McNeill, Mikael Phillips and Dr Angela Brown-Burke, will tour the flood ravaged areas of Montego Bay and make some recommendations as to how we move forward to ensure the lives of the people are brought back to as normal as possible. 

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Dayton Campbell, Press Releases

There seems to be a stalemate between the Government and the Nurses Association of Jamaica that has resulted in the disruption of services in the public health care facilities with scores of nurses reported as being sick thus affecting the delivery of care. 

The nurses are suffering from the acute conditions of stagnation in the discussions regarding the salary /wage negotiations for 2017-2019 which have been stalled indefinitely. The Opposition is urging the Government  to move with speed to address the situation and allow normalcy to return to the health sector. 


The Government offered an increase of a meagre 3% to the nurses which equates to less than $2000 per month or less than $100 more per day. The Opposition views this as an  insult to the hard working nurses, who sacrifice daily to preserve the well being of our nation. It is clear that the nurses and other members of the health care team are overworked and grossly under paid, leaving very limited room for motivation. The Opposition stands in solidarity with the nurses and demands that the Government shows them the respect they deserve by resuming  the talks with them in an effort to  make a meaningful offer. 

The WHO recommends that 6% of GDP be spent on health care and currently only 3% of the GOJ’s budget is allocated to health care. That is unacceptable and is the cause of  the downward spiral regarding the standard of care being delivered. 


The nurses are restive and the few that I spoke to personally are questioning whether or  not they can trust the words of the Government and the Cabinet, the Prime  Minister must intervene and restore the  credibility of his administration. 

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Patriots, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 22, 2017:  In its typical style of heightening its own hypocrisy and partisan bias, Generation 2000 (G2K) has called on South East St. Ann’s Member of Parliament, Lisa Hanna to “step aside” to allow for a thorough and transparent investigation in relation to allegations contained in a report released by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).


However, according to our assessment and interpretation of the situation, there is no need for Ms. Hanna to reply to G2K’s woof because she has already stated that she has done nothing wrong and would cooperate fully with the authorities in seeing that the matter is appropriately dealt with and resolved; and that the public understands completely the processes that were formulated to carry out the activities.


We find it extremely astounding and ludicrous that the G2K, the affiliated young professional arm of the governing Labour Party, who has ignored the OCG report on the $800Mn de-bushing programme undertaken prior to the local government elections, would be calling for Ms. Hanna to “step aside” before urging the Prime Minister and implicated ministers to respond to the allegations against them in the OCG’s report. 


It has been months since the contractor general made his report public on the scandalous $800m de-bushing programme, in which he described how five Cabinet Ministers devised a “corruption enabling mechanism” to divert state funds.   The Prime Minister, who had initially promised to respond to the report, has yet to do so.  G2K turned a blind eye to the findings of the OCG’s report, made no call on the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) to investigate, and has made no public statements admonishing anyone for their role in the corruption enabling activities.

Therefore, the caucus of young professional of the People’s National Party (PNP), is calling on G2K to demand that Prime Minister Andrew Holness accord respect to the office of the Contractor General and provide the promised comments on the damning report which was critical of his government’s handling of the public works programme.

The contractor general’s report on the de-bushing programme brings the Cabinet and at least five of its ministers into disrepute, asserted the President of the Patriots, Omar Newell.

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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 22, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) is condemning the Prime Minister for misleading the House and the country in saying that it was the PNP which had insisted that registration under National Identity Registration (NIDS) be compulsory. The PNP categorically states that it gave no instruction to Prime Minister Andrew Holness nor his government to include any clause in the very controversial NIDS Bill.


The PNP says, in June, some of its members attended one meeting led by the Prime Minister on the national identification project and while there was wide-ranging discussions on all sides, the members went specifically to hear the government’s proposals and learn about what was to be included in the proposed bill.


At that time, the PNP did not have a settled position on any of the issues and, therefore, could not have put forward a position. The Party says any statement to the contrary is a misrepresentation of the facts.

 At that meeting, the Prime Minister agreed to communicate with the members in two weeks regarding the views expressed. This did not take place and the only communication that came about the project was in September when he indicated Government’s intention to take the legislation through all the stages in the Parliament.

“Any reference to any proposal from the PNP is simply a red herring intended to deflect attention from the Government’s intransigence at every stage to put the Bill before a Joint Select Committee  of Parliament.,” PNP president Dr. Peter Phillips said.

The Prime Minister’s comments in Parliament last night were meant to distract from his breaking his solemn word to the Opposition and civil society present in the gallery that the government would not move to consider the 168 Senate amendments until a later date. This was a breach of trust.


The Party remains firm in its resolve that the Bill is of fundamental interest to every single Jamaican citizen and given the implications in the confused way in which it was drafted, it is critical that it is put before a Joint Select Committee for fulsome review and that all stakeholders who wish to participate may have their say.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister deliberately misled the House when he indicated the amendments from the Senate would be taken at a later date. Indeed, his Minister of Justice indicated that time was needed for members to consider the amendments.

 A few meetings with select groups cannot substitute for proper stakeholder consultation and every citizen having an opportunity to present their views before Parliament on every clause of the Bill, as would have been accommodated by a Joint Select Committee.

Moreover, the actions of the Speaker of the House in preventing the motion put forward by the Opposition to have the Bill withdrawn and referred to a Joint Select Committee represented a denial of the Opposition’s right under the Standing Order of Parliament and continued a pattern of denying the basic democratic principles.

Worst of all the Prime Minister’s betrayal of his commitment not to take the Bill demonstrates that Parliament is abandoning the principles of democracy and threatening the fundamental rights of the Jamaican people to representation in Gordon House through their elected representatives.

 ”The democracy of this nation is at risk when the Prime Minister is in breach of his own commitment and cannot be taken at his word.” Dr. Phillips said.

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Julian Robinson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 22, 2017:  The People’s National Party (PNP) has taken note of the report from the Office of Contractor General, relating to his investigation of activities in South East St. Ann. 

The Party has referred the report in its entirety to its Legal Advisor and Integrity Commission for their review, and will await their recommendations on the way forward.  Some of the issues raised in the OCG’s report have sweeping implication for our political organization and structure, including PNP councilors. Consequently, the Party does not intend to make any further statements or comments on this matter until then.

Any further clarification on this statement should be sought through the PNP Secretariat.

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