RUNAWAY BAY, St Ann — President of the governing People's National Party (PNP) and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has challenged the party's members ofd Parliament to maintain contact with their constituents.
Simpson Miller's challenge came during the party's National Executive Council (NEC) meeting Sunday amid reports of serious discontent between some key party supporters and their MPs in several constituencies.
Addressing reporters during a post NEC press briefing in St Ann, General Secretary Peter Bunting said Simpson Miller reminded the comrades of the importance of maintaining contact with the people.
"The party leader spoke to the importance of ministers, MPs, mayors, councillors ...maintaining contact with the public on the ground, not just party members, but the citizens generally," Bunting said.
Bunting said the party was cognisant of the significant hardship facing comrades and the general public but that Government's fiscal programme was very tight and that many expectations would not be met.
"Notwithstanding that, it was felt that it is important for all representatives, all leaders, to maintain contact with the citizens in their constituencies and divisions to ensure that they understand the constraints, to ensure that they are being heard and ensure that they are being communicated to," Bunting said.
He said the issue of the leadership of the party maintaining contact with the people was also raised by delegates from the NEC floor and he described those and other discussions during the closed door meeting as lively.
Bunting said the party also put forward its programme of work for the new political year and that workers are energised and ready to continue the mandate of the PNP.
"We had a good NEC. I think we allowed wide discussions and input on the programme of work that NEC members think the party should undertake in the upcoming year," Bunting said. "A number of suggestions were taken on board and I think people are motivated and energised to go out there and continue the political work."
Meanwhile, Sunday's meeting also facilitated the re-election of Robert Pickersgill for the 20th consecutive term as chairman of the party. Anthony Hylton was also re-elected as deputy chairman.
Two new members, Winston Green (MP for South East St Mary) and Joylan Silvera (MP, Western St Mary) were elected from the NEC to serve on the Executive Committee of the PNP.
The other members who were returned are Raymond Pryce, Eugene Kelly, Patrick Atkinson, Omar Davies, Wykeham McNeill, Richard Parchment, Mario Mitchell, Doreen Evans and Carlene Fenton.
Bunting said delegates also paid special tribute to Pickersgill, who is the longest serving chairman in the history of the party since the post was created 43 years ago.
"We also had a special presentation for our party chairman who was being elected for the 20th consecutive time as chairman of the party and we felt that that was a milestone that needed to be recognised," Bunting added.