Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Agenda set for leaders' summit tomorrow

By Vernon Daley,Staff Reporter
Jamaica Gleaner
Wednesday, October 31, 2002

A SEVEN-POINT agenda covering crime, constitutional reform and parliamentary changes will be discussed by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and JLP Leader Edward Seaga when they meet at tomorrow's leaders' summit at Vale Royal.

Dr. Peter Phillips, National Security Minister, and Derrick Smith, the Jamaica Labour Party's spokesperson on National Security, met yesterday morning and finalised the issues to be tackled at the meeting, which will take place starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Prime Minister's official residence.

"The Opposition's agenda items were previously made public... there were five items. I met with Minister Phillips this morning and the People's National Party proposed two items and so there will be seven points for discussions," Mr. Smith told The Gleaner yesterday.

The five points proposed by the JLP are: the appointment of the Governor-General by an independent process; an independent Police Service Commission; monthly meetings of Parliament's Appropriations and Internal Affairs Committees, each chaired by an Opposition Member; ensuring that the Contractor-General approves all contracts over a certain sum to prevent corruption; and the allocation of a portion of the national budget to a fund that would be divided equally among MPs to help them carry out more effective work in their constituencies.

For its part, the PNP wants to discuss constitutional reform, as well as ways to curb crime, especially in politically-divided areas.

Contacted yesterday, Dr. Phillips confirmed the PNP's focus on constitutional reform and crime, but stated that he expected the discussions to be free flowing, touching several matters of concern.

"We expect to discuss a range of things...," he said.

Tomorrow's meeting has been smudged by political cross talk, with both Mr. Seaga and Mr. Patterson claiming credit for initiating the summit.

Mr. Seaga called for the meeting a week after the October 16 general election, but Mr. Patterson responded by pointing out that he had made a proposal as far back as October 17, 2001, for the establishment of a mechanism to ensure ongoing political dialogue between the leadership of the Government and the Parliamentary Opposition.