Paul Buchanan's $50-billion plan

Former MP touts bond offer as the way to revitalise Central Kingston


Sunday, June 09, 2019

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A $50-billion dollar bond to improve the ageing infrastructure in large sections of the constituency is the big ticket item being put on the table by Paul Buchanan as he seeks to convince just under 600 People's National Party (PNP) delegates in Kingston Central to elect him to be their new representative.

“I am going to propose the issuance of the bond through a NGO (non-governmental organisation), or a new Central Kingston Trust, which will be managed by independent eminent persons. The bond in itself is workable. It doesn't need a Government guarantee. It will be issued through a blue-chip fund manager,” Buchanan told the Jamaica Observer.

“I was a lecturer at the University of Technology for 11 years in land economics. I taught a generation of planners and Central Kingston is in dire need of planning, hence the bond offer.

“It will be for 10 years, with a seven-year moratorium on the principal, and $22-billion of that amount will be made available for the upgrading of Central Kingston while the other $28-billion will be put aside to retire the principal payments and to pay the interest,” added Buchanan.

He said he was confident that this could be done as he successfully worked on a similar scheme while he was technical director of the Micro Investment Development Agency Limited (MIDA).

“I think this level of investment is sorely needed in Central Kingston. At MIDA we floated a $100-million dollar bond and the same principle obtains. We need this massive funding to finance anything and to build on whatever the Government plans for the constituency.

“We need a Central Kingston Trust that must look, regardless of politics, at lifting up of all the areas such as Franklin Town, Allman Town, South Side, Tel Aviv. The time for excuses is over. Regardless of party, the people of Central Kingston deserve better,” declared Buchanan who served as Member of Parliament for St Andrew West Rural from 2011 until 2016 when he was defeated by the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Juliet Cuthbert Flynn.

According to Buchanan, his decision to leave St Andrew West Rural after that defeat and seek, what many consider a PNP “safe seat” in Kingston Central does not reflect weakness on his part.

“I was born in Central Kingston and I want to end my political career there. I am disappointed in the level of degradation that attends that constituency. Clearly, we can do better for those people.

“I would have preferred St Andrew South where I lived for most of my life but having spent a significant part of my life in St Andrew West Rural building up that constituency to make life a little better for the people there, I want to bring to bear, my experience, my track record and my knowledge to the upliftment of these areas where I grew up and in particular Central Kingston at this time,” said Buchanan.

He argued that it would be unfair to say that he ran away from the constituency which he represented in Parliament for one term.

“You will notice that two of the other aspirants (Raymond Pryce and Imani Duncan-Price) were in other constituencies. One lost, while the other did not run the second time. So that is not unique to me. I just think that I want to have the last hurrah in the areas of my birth and the areas that I grew up. I want to look after the area that spawned me,” Buchanan argued.

The former MP declared that any mutual observer would say he performed extremely well in St Andrew West Rural where he put on a show that cannot be replicated.

“My track record is there. It is not about going to Parliament, it is what you do when you get there. It is not about winning or losing. As I have always said, in a democracy the people have the right to be wrong. They were wrong in 2016 and the current MP seems to have spent the last three years speaking about abortion in Parliament and the people are suffering.

“I lost because of the overwhelming promises that the JLP made. I just could not surmount the promises. I lost few votes. I got 7,600 votes in 2011 and I got 7,500 plus in 2016. The JLP just came out with its promises and that accounted for the defeat,” argued Buchanan.

He pointed to three health centres, five information technology training centres, two new schools, two highways, three bridges and dozens of roads which he said were among his many achievements during his time as the MP as proof that he is a performer.

“I left from Jones Town Primary to Wolmer's Boys' School, to York University to the University of the West Indies and prepared myself for public service. As the technical director of MIDA I co-ordinated the issuance of almost $1 billion in micro sector loans.

“Operation Pride, 30,000 titles and 20,000 letters of possession was the largest instance of land reform in the western world. I will write the story one day of Operation Pride.

“There were no scandals involving myself or anyone from my unit and the (Erwin) Angus Commission showed that,” said Buchanan who left the Government's low-income housing programme following allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the discharge of its mandate, but returned after the appointment of a new minister in charge.

An avid cricketer who was one of the youngest persons to play for Jamaica's national team, the veteran Comrade is convinced that he has what it takes to keep Kingston Central for the PNP in the next general election and the knowledge and experience to breathe new life into the run-down constituency.

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