THE leadership of the Peoples National Party (PNP) is declaring that everything is in place for a "celebratory" annual conference which begins today and continues through to Sunday.
The conference will be the first since the mauling of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in both general and local government elections, and party officials who addressed a pre-conference press briefing yesterday emphasised that the significance of the event will not be ignored.
"We expect an excellent conference, remember the last conference we were in opposition, so in a sense it's a celebratory conference, and a thank you conference," said party chairman Robert Pickersgill, who was flanked by General Secretary Peter Bunting and Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson.
Speaking with reporters, Bunting also acknowledged the significance of this year's conference, but emphasised that though celebratory, the tone of the event will facilitate reflections on the economic challenges confronting Jamaicans.
The conference kicks off this evening with a cultural event at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters and continues on Saturday at Jamaica College, with a private session involving scores of delegates.
Both Robinson and Pickersgil acknowledged that several thorny issues, including matters relating to the state of the economy, are expected to be raised by delegates, some of whom are unhappy with the party's failure to deliver on promises made in the lead up to the general election.
In a bid to address those concerns, Robinson explained that a presentation on the economy will be delivered to the private session.
The three-day event is slated to culminate on Sunday with a public session, which is to be highlighted by the presentation of party president and Prime Minister Portia-Simpson Miller, who is slated to speak at 2:00 pm.
"I am convinced that after the party leader's speech, hope would have been kept alive and some meaningful pronouncements would be made regarding jobs, housing and other kinds of prospects," said a confident Pickersgill as he told reporters to expect a large turnout for Sunday's public session.
Meanwhile, the PNP officials are dismissing suggestions that the party is being affected by a seeming malaise, and declared that the party has only been in office for eight months, and remains energised.
"There is a cycle in politics that peaks coming into an election. Our last national election was at the end of March, now I think its normal to expect that newly elected local government and national representatives would spend the next six months dealing with their local government and national responsibilities," said Bunting.
He was supported by Pickersgill, who expressed an appreciation for the concerns of some of the party's supporters. "We knew that expectation levels were high, we warned the electorate, and we have said it that we are coming from rock bottom," said Pickersgill in reference to the state of affairs when his party took office in January.