Editorial

Congrats to the winners, but can we refocus on economic growth now?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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Heartiest congratulations are in order for Dr Norman Dunn and the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) for taking the St Mary South Eastern seat after yesterday's hard-fought by-election.

Congratulations are also due to Dr Angela Brown Burke, the successful People's National Party (PNP) candidate in St Andrew South Western, and Mark Golding who won the St Andrew Southern constituency.

The successful staging of the by-elections is also a function of the Electoral Office of Jamaica which gets better with each poll, despite inadequate resources. And without the presence of the security forces things might not have been as violence-free as reported.

We are not overly concerned about the lower voter turnout, more notably in St Andrew Southern and St Andrew South Western. A cursory glance at our electoral history shows that the turnout is nothing to eat ourself up about.

The JLP win, above everything else, gives Prime Minister Andrew Holness more breathing space to fashion the Cabinet in his own image and to carry out the shuffle he has promised, but is apparently unable to do, because of the thin one-seat majority the JLP enjoys in Parliament.

Now that the by-elections are over, however, the country has to refocus on the really critical business of growing the economy to the place where it can provide the progress and prosperity that Jamaicans have long been waiting for but which has constantly eluded us.

The real purpose of an election cannot be just bragging rights for any party or merely to strengthen the hand of a prime minister who must tread carefully, lest anyone should cross the floor. Elections are for nothing if they do not lay the foundation on which leadership can craft the framework for building a better country for every one.

Mr Holness should concentrate on becoming that leader who will be remembered for constructing the socio-economic infrastructure that ends the decades of minuscule or no growth and driving down the high level of poverty that besets us.

For his part, Dr Phillips must immediately engage with the phenomenon of the garrison constituency, in which the democracy we praise is not enjoyed in equal measure as the rest of the country.The ease with which the PNP won the St Andrew seats, compared with St Mary, speaks volumes.

With a larger number of garrisons controlled by the PNP, he can lead the JLP in this regard by the example he sets. The de-garrisonisation of Jamaica can be the legacy of this generation of politicians.

Having said all that, the by-elections in these three constituencies will have true meaning only when we come to assess the quality of life for all the residents at the end of the term in office of the winners and their party.

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