‘Deceptive and disingenuous’
OPPOSITION spokesman with responsibility for affairs concerning Portmore Fitz Jackson has scoffed at Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s claim that the decision to transform the municipality into the island’s 15th parish is not an “election gimmick”.
According to Jackson, the Member of Parliament for St Catherine Southern, the prime minister’s comment is nothing more than a “deceptive tactic”.
Holness was quoted as telling a meeting of the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Central Executive Committee on Sunday that making Portmore a parish was never intended as an election gimmick or a strategy to win Portmore.
According to a report from the JLP, Holness noted that the country is evolving economically, culturally, and socially.
“This evolution requires the Government to make strategic changes to enhance the development of areas like Portmore, which requires changes in definition and management to further its development,” the report quoted Holness as saying.
The report added that Holness was adamant that his Government would never seek to use the people of Portmore for narrow political objectives.
But on Monday Jackson told the Jamaica Observer that the prime minister’s remarks insult the intelligence of Portmore residents and the Jamaican people at large.
“Despite the prime minister’s declaration, there has been a notable absence of concrete plans for the development of Portmore’s infrastructure, social services, education, health, governance, and security,” said Jackson.
“The PNP (People’s National Party) demands a transparent outline from the prime minister detailing the tangible benefits that will directly impact the lives of Portmore residents and communities through the proposed parish designation,” declared Jackson.
He argued that all the Government ministries, their agencies and service providers that appeared before the joint select committee of Parliament made it clear that their service provisions are determined only by needs of communities, and budgetary allocation, regardless of Portmore being a parish or not.
Jackson also criticised the prime minister’s failure to articulate democratic and transparent processes for considering Portmore’s parish status.
He charged that this lack of clarity is a confirmation of boundary manipulations, echoing concerns raised by statements made by Cabinet member Everald Warmington indicating such.
“The PNP urges the prime minister to abandon tribal and gerrymandering practices in defining parish boundaries, as such practices have historically led to violence, bloodshed, and loss of lives,” said Jackson.
He reiterated that the PNP is prepared to take all necessary steps to preserve Jamaica’s outstanding achievement in detribalising the electoral processes and administration and warned that this will include legal action and civil protests.
“The country has come too far, sacrificed too much, to allow it all to be compromised… Jamaica cannot and ought not to resume such practices that have, in the past, led to violence, bloodshed, and hundreds of deaths,” said Jackson.