BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at Large Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny — Opposition spokesman on finance, growth and economic development, Audley Shaw, has charged that the Government owes $130 million to several suppliers of food to the Jamaica Defence Force.
He argued that while Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips is boasting that the Government has passed its first quarterly International Monetary Fund (IMF) test, the Administration has been delinquent in settling a number of outstanding bills.
"Him (Phillips) pass IMF test, but him not paying the current bills. The suppliers to the Jamaica Defence Force are not getting their money on time, they are now owed over $130 million and this includes supplies of ground provisions such as yams from Trelawny," said Shaw.
He was addressing JLP delegates and party supporters at the Albert Town Community Centre in the constituency of South Trelawny on Sunday night, as part of his campaign to unseat Opposition Leader Andrew Holness for the party's top post.
Shaw told the gathering that like Holness, he wants to be a responsible Opposition leader, but warned that should he become leader of the JLP, he would be the People's National Party's "worst nightmare".
"Our leader (Holness) said that he does not want to be anybody's nightmare, and he said he wants to be a responsible Opposition [leader], but let me make my position absolutely clear tonight: I too will lead a party that is a responsible Opposition; but elect me and the day after you have elected me, I can guarantee the People's National Party that I will be their worst nightmare straight into the next election," Shaw told the Labourites.
He said he is eager to have the internal party elections out of the way, so he can focus on bringing back hope to Jamaica.
"People need hope and the Labour Party has the capacity to inspire hope, because every time that we have been in Government, even if it is for a short time, we were able to manage the economy," said Shaw.
He charged that since the PNP regained power in 2011, the economy has taken a turn for the worse.
"These are serious times in which we are operating. This Government is mashing up the economy once again," Shaw stressed.
"I left the dollar (US) at $86.00 (to one Jamaican dollar), it is now at $104.00 and still moving; I left prices stable, prices are now moving; interest rates are beginning to trend upwards; the economy has been stagnant for six consecutive quarters and unemployment has gone up by three per cent since the election," he stressed.
Several JLP stalwarts backing Shaw in his leadership bid, also addressed the meeting. They included JLP spokesman on tourism and travel service, Ed Bartlett; Senator Chris Tufton, spokesman on foreign affairs, foreign trade and investment; Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, spokesperson on education and human resource development; and former minister of health, Rudyard Spencer.