Jamaicans increasingly doubtful about the future - Peter Phillips
Former Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

KINGSTON,Jamaica - Former Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has charged that Jamaicans are increasingly doubtful about the future.

According to Phillips, “too many are broken-hearted, too many live in hope that the best action for their children is if Auntie Mary in Brooklyn (New York) can file for their nephew."

"We can’t go on like that," declared Phillips on Sunday as he addressed the 85th annual conference of the People's National Party at the National Arena on Sunday.

"The entire mission of national development as defined by the founders of our party is being brought into question and put at risk," Phillips stated as he questioned the employment numbers as presented by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. He argued that windscreen wipers and persons working for one hour per week should not be classified as being gainfully employed. “We can’t call that person an employed person,” Phillips stated.

“Not to mention that even though they (the government) say they have the highest number of employed people, you have more than a half a million Jamaicans who not even looking for work. Many of them (have been) drawn into the world of criminality and violence,” Phillips added.

He pointed to the government’s own numbers which he said show that over half of students entering high schools from primary schools are unable to read or write.

And he highlighted that more than 700,000 Jamaicans live in squatter communities without title to land, without proper housing or roads.

Phillips pushed back at the argument that the so-called squatter community or settlement is not made up of lazy people, "it’s not made up of people who don’t want to work," he insisted as he pointed out that "some of the hardest working people in the world live in these communities."

"The squatter communities represent one of the most obscene and degrading elements of the inheritance of plantation slavery and the plantation economy. It represents the continuing presence, the generations of all those formerly enslaved people who were turned out from the plantation," he continued.

Phillips pointed out that they, unlike the plantation owners, were not compensated. "They were left to try and manage for themselves without nothing at all to compensate them," he lamented, while noting that "some did better, but their generations are the ones who are left on the gully bank and the open land, trying to make a living."

"Time come for us to solve that problem that has been bedeviling us for too long," he stressed.

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