Raymond Pryce eyes the FUTURE

One-time MP vows to provide hope for people of Kingston Central if he gets the nod of PNP delegates


Sunday, June 16, 2019

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HAVING gone to school in Central Kingston and with family and friends still living there, Raymond Pryce is convinced that his ties to the constituency make him the perfect replacement for Ronald Thwaites as the People's National Party (PNP) standard-bearer.

“What many people are rediscovering and others are finding out, is that if Central Kingston was a nation, I would bear its nationality,” Pryce told the Jamaica Observer.

“I have lived there, gone to school there — Alpha Prep, St George's College — and having relatives who still live in the constituency and close by in Rollington Town, Vineyard Town, so I have a familiarity —and not just a casual familiarity.

“I have intimate knowledge of the streets, the culture, the nature of Central Kingston,” added Pryce.

He charged that Kingston Central needs an MP who understands the existence of the residents who struggle to make a living through their enterprise and resourcefulness.

“As someone who is the child of a teenage mother, who has had the experience of having to fit in at St George's at a time when there were fewer of the Chinese and more of the black people coming in, I can identify people (from Kingston Central) in the school's yearbook who now live at Dovecot or Meadowrest, or who have to get permission from the warder when to go shower.

“If you don't have that type of lived experience to convert your professional background, your education and your ability to think beyond today on behalf of people, to put in programmes that will help to give them that quantum leap, then what you are going to have in Central Kingston, unfortunately, is a situation where, four five or 15 years from now you are going to have a deeper level of cynicism,” declared Pryce.

The former deputy general secretary of the PNP argued that his academic and professional pursuits, including climate change response, puts him in a position to retrofit the ageing, and in some instances, dilapidated infrastructure in the constituency.

“Central Kingston covers a lot of ironies and even paradoxes. Right there in the shadow of institutions like Bank of Jamaica, the new GraceKennedy headquarters, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs new building you have, in walking distance, private dwellings which barely can be described that way.

“The improvements in the standard of living [in Jamaica], has escaped a lot of the residents in Central Kingston. They are living in buildings that are degraded and disintegrating around them,” added Pryce.

For him the revitalisation of Kingston Central needs someone who has the experience and knowledge in development, and pointed out that he has participated in similar development projects here and abroad.

Pryce said when he was first asked to consider representing the PNP in Kingston Central, he sent in a team of independent professionals who identified what the residents thought the development should be and how this should be done.

“In doing the reviews we came up with a manifesto using the acronym FUTURE. 'F' for fairness, 'U' for unity, 'T' for transformation, 'U' for upliftment, 'R' for restoration and 'E' for enterprise.

“The issue of fairness comes about from a constant complaint which we picked up in the surveys where…some people get, and get, and get. So there was a concern that there was not enough equity and fairness,” added Pryce as he argued the need for all the other aspects of FUTURE.

He said he will put in place a set of programmes to change the perception of an unfair allocation of resources in the politically polarised constituency.

“So the people understand that if there are 10 things to be done, based on the availability of resources, those things will be done in a fair and equitable manner where no one will believe that they are being disadvantaged,” said Pryce, as he added that the development will not be aimed at just PNP supporters.

He said this was a similar approach that he took while he was the Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern from 2011 to 2016.

“The programmes I focused on were for the development of all the people. Programmes such as the…upgrading of the Sydney Pagon Agricultural High School… when you go to a school such as Mosses Valley, which had not changed much since it was first built, and you put in a reading resource centre and modern sanitary conveniences — that kind of policy does not favour a voter that supports your party versus a voter who did not,” said Pryce.

“So, if for example, you are converting some of the dilapidated or abandoned buildings into trade centres, or homework centres, or places where people can be assisted in those areas, that is the kind of stimulus in politics [that helps everyone],” declared Pryce who walked away from St Elizabeth North Eastern after the leadership of the PNP decided that he was to face a run-off against businessman Evon Redman, who some Comrades wanted as his replacement.

With some critics accusing him of eyeing Kingston Central because it is seen as a safe PNP seat, Pryce argued that any breakdown of the voters' list would show that it is neither mathematically nor electorally safe.

“I have had a young lady who asked me 'Are you Punchinello?' I said I didn't get it. She said 'Who is coming next Punchinello little fellow, what can you do?'

“Then I understood she was asking what can I do that was not done in 23 years, and if it was not done in 23 years why do you think you can do it,” said Pryce, as he warned that every PNP candidate will face the invisible giant of incumbency in the next election where voters will ask “what can you do and why was it not done before”.

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