FALMOUTH, Trelawny — With over 1,300 murders reported across the 19 police divisions since the start of the year, prime minister and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness is expected to address the country's worrying crime problem during the party's 78th annual conference on Sunday, according to Desmond McKenzie, a deputy leader of the ruling party.
“The prime minister will speak extensively at the conference on the question of security. But let me say, crime is all of us concern; and I believe collectively we can overcome that hurdle if we truly commit ourselves to the fight against crime,” McKenzie said during a press conference held at the Royalton Hotel in Trelawny yesterday.
He added that the prime minister's address is also expected to bring hope to the nation.
“This year's conference will bring a message of hope to the Jamaican people. This year's conference will assure the Jamaican people that the Jamaica Labour Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is still committed and will work harder in rebuilding Jamaica to ensure that as a nation and as a people we continue to give the prosperity that we started in 2016,” said McKenzie.
“I urge all Jamaicans at home and abroad, wherever you are, to join us this Sunday virtually in building back Jamaica.”
The conference, to be held under the theme 'Building Back Stronger', will also be used “to show the country the steps we are taking and the steps that are being taken to build back from the onslaught of COVID-19”, McKenzie added.
Holness and other party officials will be speaking from the main area at the National Indoor Sports Centre — one of 10 locations across the JLP's area councils where the digital conference will be hosted.
“Presentations,” McKenzie explained, ''will come from all sites within each location.”
The JLP deputy leader, who was accompanied at yesterday's press conference by Homer Davis, the party's deputy general secretary, told reporters that the conference will be held in accordance with the JLP's constitution, which dictates that for a conference to be lawfully constituted there must be a quorum of 500 members. He also stressed that all attendees must be fully vaccinated.
“And indeed taking into consideration the restrictions around COVID-19 and maintaining the protocols under the DRMA [Disaster Risk Management Act], we will achieve this by broadcasting our conference from 10 locations which will represent all area councils of the Jamaica Labour Party right across the country,” he pointed out.
“Each location will only be allowed to admit 50 persons and these 50 persons will be selected by the area council executives, because they are accredited delegates of the Jamaica Labour Party.
“All attendees must be fully vaccinated and each area council will be working with the health authority in verifying vaccine status of all persons attending our conference. All relevant agencies have been engaged to ensure that the appropriate protocols are in place and are adhered to in line with the DRMA regulation. We are giving the assurance to the country that we will practise good public health, taking into consideration that we are still challenged by COVID-19,” Davis said.
While noting he is not in a position to disclose the cost to stage this year's conference, McKenzie pointed out that a virtual conference will cost a lot more than the regular face-to-face conference.
“But we are looking forward to a great virtual conference,” he stressed.
The conference is scheduled to commence at 11:00 am and run until 3:00 pm.