Good governance requires the continuation of good policies
A section of the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 in Manchester.

Combative rhetoric typically heard at annual political party conferences such as that of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) which ended Sunday, and that of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to come in November, reminds us that our political system is essentially adversarial.

So, while grudging credit is occasionally given to the other side, the more central intent is to emphasise how poorly "they" are doing or have done and how much better "we" will do or are doing.

Yet, while that adversarial aspect is much at fault for the failure to unite in dealing with long-standing problems such as crime, we shouldn't make the mistake of believing there is no continuity from one governing party to another.

Management of the Jamaican economy over the last decade is certainly an example of the latter aspect.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke justifiably boast of the Government's achievements in bringing the ratio of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) to less than 80 per cent currently. That was from a high of an appalling debt-to-GDP ratio close to 150 per cent in 2013 when the then just over year-old PNP Government agreed to an economic reform programme with the lender of last resort, International Monetary Fund.

All agree that the tough fiscal discipline shown by the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government of that time with Dr Peter Phillips as finance minister laid the platform for the current Government's admirable achievements.

At a more basic level, Mr Holness's formal opening last week of the May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 is just the latest manifestation of former Prime Minister P J Patterson's millennium project, first conceptualised in the late 1990s in the face of considerable opposition.

It is to the great credit of the current Government that they saw the wisdom of Mr Patterson's vision and acted to "open up" south-central Jamaica by executing the latest leg of the highway.

We now look forward to that leg through St Thomas and Portland which will eventually connect to the north coast highway as part of that vision of easy travel through the length and breadth of Jamaica.

Initial phases of Highway 2000 through Clarendon and St Catherine — now renamed in honour of Mr Patterson — were opened under the PNP Government of the early 2000s.

It will be recalled that the north-south leg of the highway — renamed in honour of another former prime minister, Mr Edward Seaga — started by the Simpson Miller-led Government of the PNP was opened by the JLP Government of Mr Holness.

We note as well the announcement by Mr Holness of other much-needed highway developments through southern and western Jamaica now at the planning stage.

It all forms part of essential continuity in governance in our view.

At Sunday's PNP conference, party president and Opposition Leader Mr Mark Golding spoke of the need for the society to advance from "fiscal stability" to "economic and social transformation" with education and training as a central theme.

A Government led by him would set about that task, he said.

This newspaper agrees that such transformation is badly needed. However, in getting it done we must all ensure that continuity in solid fiscal/economic management from which this country has benefited across administrations over the last decade is not sacrificed.

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