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Opposition insists on ignoring Social Partnership signing

By Balford Henry, Observer Senior Reporter

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | 11:24 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica --The Government wants to go through with the signing of a social partnership involving government/opposition/private sector/trade unions/civil society tomorrow, but the Opposition says it will not be forced into an agreement without the support of all levels of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

The government could go through, like its predecessor, seeking a partnership without the involvement of the opposition political party, but the history of such partnerships have not been encouraging.

Former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, also tried to get a social partnership going in 2009/10 including the then People's National Party (PNP) opposition, en route to a stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund in 2009/10.

Golding invited the participation of civil society institutions, to force wider participation in the process But, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, the then Opposition Leader, said her party would not participate in what she described as “an insincere and purely cosmetic public relations exercise”.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, Simpson Miller is hoping that Opposition Leader Andrew Holness can convince his party to put all that behind them and cooperate with her People's National Party (PNP) government and the other stakeholders.

But, some JLP insiders are insisting that the PNP should not be allowed to cajole the party into taking a decision on the latest partnership proposals, without it going through the party's democratic process.

“There is no need to rush the signing” former Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) cabinet minister, Dwight Nelson, who has been involved with the current partnership discussions, told the Observer yesterday.

“We have a democratic process and we can't sign until that is exhausted. Every level of the party has to be consulted,” insisted Nelson, who was intimately involved with Golding's efforts.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Arthur Williams, another member of the JLP team involved in the partnership discussions, said that the party's position had been fully expressed by Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, in a statement last week.

In that statement Holness said that the JLP was not convinced that the government is totally committed to fundamental economic reforms, such as comprehensive tax reform and public sector reform, or has seized of the urgency of these reforms.

“Neither does the JLP agree with a tacit policy of devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar, while asking workers to accept a wage freeze, nor do we accept the lax approach with which the Jamaican Government treats with our trade imbalance with CARICOM,” the Opposition Leader added.

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