CHAIRMAN of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast (NLPB) Reverend Dr Peter Garth believes that many Jamaicans have missed out on "some important" things said by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in her national broadcast on Sunday night because of preoccupation with the deal yet to be signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"I think the prime minister said some important things, but I think we missed a lot of the important things she said in terms of some future developments, because in the minds of Jamaicans, it is what is happening with the IMF," Reverend Garth told the Jamaica Observer yesterday following a press briefing announcing NLPB's 33rd staging to be held on January 17.
In Sunday night's near 15-minute-long address, the prime minister skirted around the issue of the IMF negotiations — a move which has since attracted lots of criticism.
According to Rev Garth, while the situation was grim and not necessarily one politicians want to dwell on, it has to be faced head-on.
"There was a former prime minister who said we have to bite the bullet and ban the belly, and no politician likes to come out and say that because they feel it is a discouragement. But we have to face the reality that there are going to be some serious decisions to be made for the benefit of the country and we all have to work together to see how we can pull ourselves out of the economic disaster," he told the Observer at the Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
In the meantime, he said it was hoped that the speaker at the upcoming event Rev Dr Maitland Evans president of International University of the Caribbean, will address "the matter of the crisis in our nation" in elaborating on the theme 'Love That Transforms'.
"There is a sense of hopelessness, and in the message we want to speak to the matter of hope; many Jamaicans feel let down at this time," Rev Garth noted.
In the meantime, he said the theme was highly relevant at this time.
"...Lovelessness has caused persons to fight against each other; the tribalism we have had in politics, so, if somebody comes with a good idea but they are in green it is cast aside. We are saying listen, we need to go back to the basics. Love one another and work together. There is indoctrination in so many Jamaicans that because of the political situation that has existed since Independence they struggle against each other," he said.
"Jamaicans at this time will have to do far more than what they have done before. If we are to come out of our situation we have to have a workable plan," he added.
He also said was in full agreement with statements attributed to a former head of the World Bank about the problem of corruption in Jamaica.
"He said the real issue is beyond economics, the real issue is corruption, and I think he was absolutely right. If we can get rid of corruption out of our country we would be better off and get people to begin to have confidence in each other," Garth said.
"Investors will come back into this country once again if they can have confidence in the country. Look at what we spend on security, if you are setting up a business you have to factor in security because of the crime and lawlessness, and it is because we don't love each other. So the spiritual and the economical are all tied up together; you can't separate them," he added.
Yesterday, Richard Powell, president and chief executive officer of the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), said the "national concerns taken together with the uncertainty that continue to loom in the global economy make it even more important that we heal the cleavages that exist in our society and bring to bear on these issues the strongest unified leadership that we can muster".
"At the best of times the role of leadership is inherently challenging and fraught with difficulty and it is therefore vital, especially in circumstances that we now find ourselves in as a nation, that we seek divine assistance in charting the way forward so that we can successfully navigate the challenges lying ahead," he said, noting that the event was anticipated.
The NLPB, which is being sponsored by VMBS — the title sponsors for the last 28 years — will have 450 invited persons in attendance. Some $1.8 million has been budgeted for the event.
Rev Garth said the largest portion of the sum, which does not include the cost of the repast that is being taken up by VMBS, is related to the arrangements for broadcasting and the public address system.