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PNP says much achieved in first year

Ingrid Brown

Friday, January 11, 2013    

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THE People's National Party (PNP)-led Government yesterday released what it described as a Year One Report Card detailing its achievements in the first 12 months of the administration.

In highlighting the five main pillars of the report, the party's general secretary, Peter Bunting, said the document not only linked the administration's work to the promises made in the party's 2011 manifesto and the progressive agenda, but also the efforts of the various ministries and the direction the Government was taking the country.

The PNP general secretary, who was addressing a press conference at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters in Kingston yesterday to present the report, said there will be a subsequent document which would summarise the manifesto's promises as well as other significant transformational initiatives being planned.

"While this First Year Report Card focuses on the status of manifesto's 2011 promises kept and in-train, we know there is much work to be done to complete the five-year plan which will take us to the end of our first term," Bunting said.

The self-evaluation report, Bunting explained, was done with the help of a committee of the party's executive, along with ministers' reports of their performance.

But while not willing to point to any failures of the administration, Bunting said what could have been done better is the ability to move more quickly on everything.

"Speaking for myself as a first-time Cabinet minister it is frustrating the pace at which things can move through the bureaucracy, having said that I think we have achieved a lot," he said, adding that a sound platform has been established in the first year.

The first plank of the report focused on the creation of a social net to ease the burden for the most vulnerable Jamaicans while re-establishing economic stability.

This covers the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), phases one and two; removal of General Consumption Tax on electricity bills; tax and pension reforms, debt management and a right-sized, more cost-efficient Government.

"It is in this section that the majority of matters that would need to be addressed to allow for the successful completion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement are addressed; the same critical matters that we have to get right as a country whether a deal is completed in the short term or not," Bunting said.

The second plank examines the repositioning of the economy to create a clear path to growth and development.

"The second plank is critical and will be one of the main focus areas of our Cabinet retreat," Bunting said.

Pointing to the four industries highlighted in the party's manifesto — ICT, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism — Bunting said the first year was spent laying the foundation with an important element being the government's efforts to establish Jamaica as a major logistics hub in the Americas.

This, he said, will facilitate not only trans-shipment but ICT and manufacturing companies to set up operations here.

The third plank addresses the creation of a framework that facilitates genuine participation for better governance while the fourth looks at the development of social infrastructure to support sustained growth.

Noting that no growth can take place without people, Bunting said for an individual to contribute to the growth of their country they must be educated, feel safe, be healthy and have a sense of identity. As such, Bunting said the administration has begun to make Jamaica a safer place and have started to address the issues of violence against children and a reduction in crime.

The fifth plank is continued physical infrastructural developments to support an environment of growth. This entails the continued construction of Highway 2000, expansion of the ports to take advantage of significant trans-shipment trade opportunities, increased affordable housing opportunities for Jamaicans and improved water supply.

Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson, who noted that this is the first ever such report card from a governing party or a government in Jamaica's history, said the party intends to make this an annual event.

"This is a new annual tradition for us in keeping with our commitment to participation, accountability and responsibility, what we call PAR in our Progressive Agenda," he said.

Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill, meanwhile, said the party intends to honour the mantra established by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that the party and Government are consultative, inclusive and will maintain a constant and open dialogue with the people of Jamaica.

"With 12 months of the maximum 60 for the first term of the current administration having passed, and as the prime minister objectively expressed, it has not been a perfect year, yet we believe it prudent and important to engage in this self-assessment and to make the results of that assessment public," he said.

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