PNP cranks up -Election campaign moves into high gear
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson at a recent rally in Oracabessa, St. Mary. - Rudolph Brown/Staff Photographer
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL Party (PNP) President P.J. Patterson put his party on its mark for the upcoming general elections as he addressed hundreds of National Executive Council (NEC) members at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.
Members of the NEC, which is the highest decision-making body of the party outside of the national conference, met yesterday to take the pulse of the party and assess its preparedness to fight in the upcoming general elections.
Sources close to the governing party said Mr. Patterson urged the over 300 NEC members, who attended the closed-door meeting, to intensify their efforts in helping to sell the party's achievements since it took over the reigns of Government some 13 years ago.
Mr. Patterson, who is celebrating his 10th year as Prime Minister, is reported to have boasted about the party's achievements in giving away land and stabilising the economy.
He also warned NEC members to redouble their efforts in the field because the "time for elections is drawing closer." The source described the mood of the meeting as "bouncing and vibrant."
General-Secretary for the PNP, Maxine Henry-Wilson said the party had not been put on election alert but confessed that it had entered a "state of greater urgency."
Among the important issues touched by Mr. Patterson, Mrs. Henry-Wilson said, is the transformation of the Jamaican economy.
She said the economy is now on sound footing, even though it had come at sometimes severe social cost to Jamaicans.
Another crucial issue dealt with by Mr. Patterson is corruption. Mrs. Henry-Wilson said the Party President stressed the need for party members to make a distinction between acts of inefficient management on the one hand and corruption on the other.
This is an attempt to counter allegations of corruption levelled at the party by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party and other critics. Mrs. Henry-Wilson suggested that in many controversies involving public funds, the real problem was not one of corruption but poor management. She insisted that she was not making an attempt to excuse lax administration.
The JLP has accused the Government of corruption over the disbursement of money from the Intec Fund as well as its handling of Operation Pride projects. Over the weekend, Mr. Patterson said that any member of his Cabinet who is found to be corrupt would be fired. "Anytime I find any one of you putting your finger in the cookie jar, a gone you gone," he said. The Gleaner understands that the party will sign off on candidates for four remaining constituencies in the next two weeks. These include West St. Andrew where sitting MP O.T. Williams is up against Sonia Rickards and South Central St. Catherine where the MP Sharon Hay-Webster is facing a stiff challenge from Keste Miller.