The Andrew Holness-led Administration has maintained that it is the Government of choice for Jamaica, having made sound fiscal decisions; engaged in and completed numerous road and infrastructural projects; given more spending power to the people through an increased tax threshold and a revised public sector compensation package; and improved social and educational benefits, especially for the most vulnerable.
Who can disagree that it has been on a mission to take the citizens from "poverty to prosperity"? Even Dionne Blake, the St Elizabeth farmer who had requested and later received a donkey from the prime minister, is testament to this mantra, having named the animal Prosperity. The social houses donated to some of the most needed in the society are also a manifestation of taking people from the gutter and inspiring them with hope.
Notwithstanding, many will not overlook the treatment meted out to teachers, nurses, and other public sector workers who have sacrificed a lot but continue to experience an economic strain. The perpetual migration of these people speaks loudly. But who is listening? Thankfully, Education Minister Fayval Williams has reported that most of the teaching vacancies have been filled, although some schools are still having serious issues offering some subject areas. While grateful that our children's education is not seriously affected, we are cognisant that there are other vacancies coming in January, which will have further implications.
Despite the accomplishments that the Government may toot, it is hard to overlook the allegations of corruption that have been brought against some of its members. People are on the fence regarding our two major political parties. The recent BlueDot polls conducted by Nationwide News Network revealed that citizens do not trust politicians. The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) recently held its conference on #TimeComeNow, but the polls suggest that its incumbent leader is not the most popular to lead the party or a new Government. By the way, have they put out a press release on the case surrounding the missing daughter and babymother of their senior member, Phillip Paulwell?
Will Prime Minister Holness ask House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert to recuse herself amid the report from the Integrity Commission recommending that she be charged for falsifying statements in her statutory declarations? The public recalls that it was this same House speaker who was before the court between 2021 and 2022 for a case of dumping. The judge later dumped the case.
Too often politicians find themselves in situations of cronyism, nepotism, and conflicts of interest. Even when acting in the best of interests, Jamaicans cannot be convinced otherwise that these are not cases of corruption, once a politician involved. Additionally, the media, civil society, and integrity groups will stop at nothing to push a certain agenda. Therefore, there is no room for politicians to mess up. And as the parties prepare for local government election, Holness cannot allow the bad apples in his Government to cause his political capital to devalue, if he wants to remain in Government.
As for Opposition Leader Mark Golding, we saw improved numbers at the recently held conference. It was encouraging. However, now is not the time for you or any other member of your party to make baseless political utterances or enact skits that are tone-deaf. The people need substance. They need a viable Opposition that will articulate strategic plans that are well researched and timely.
Accountability, integrity, and transparency must be core values demonstrated in governance.