PNP promises - Growth of two to six per cent - Increased funding for education - More job opportunities - Assault on illegal drug trade
By Lynford Simpson, Staff Reporter
THE GOVERNING People's National Party (PNP) yesterday launched its 2002 election manifesto with five main planks running the gamut from economic growth and job creation to providing quality education and health care.
Dr. Peter Phillips, a vice-president and chairman of the party's manifesto committee, outlined the PNP's plans to grow the economy, create wealth and fight crime and violence, in a high-profile launch at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, that was beamed around the country via satellite.
"This manifesto embodies the People's National Party's solemn covenant with the people of Jamaica, as we seek to advance the grand mission of completing the positive transformation of our society in taking Jamaica forward and creating a better life for all our people," said Prime
Minister P.J. Patterson in his mission statement.
Dr. Phillips said that "this manifesto was not the result of any backroom exercise undertaken by some gurus generating some fancy ideas," an apparent swipe at the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which had criticised the PNP for not releasing its manifesto earlier. Dr. Phillips, the Minister of National Security, said the party's manifesto is a "major project" that evolved from extensive consultations.
Prime Minister Patterson, who also spoke at yesterday's launch, cautioned that "change is not a single or instant event. It is a process of constant evolution."
The number one priority of the PNP, if it is returned to office after the upcoming general election, is to "accelerate the positive transformation we have started in the Jamaican economy."
To this end, the party said that GDP growth of two to four per cent in the medium term and six per cent thereafter is targeted. Additionally, the party has committed itself to reducing the rate of unemployment to 10 per cent or less along with a 25 per cent reduction in poverty.
Other macroeconomic targets include:
Included in the 80-page document titled 'Advancing the Quality Society' is a promise to accelerate the "massive programme of infrastructure development now under way" and to launch new projects related to tourism, sea ports and airports.
Conscious that it has done poorly in the area of job creation, the PNP has targeted eight areas to generate jobs. These are tourism, infrastructure, agriculture, technology, telecommunications, mining and energy, manufacturing and microbusiness.
"Having established a stable economic environment, the PNP will, in the next term, accelerate its efforts to stimulate growth and create jobs," the manifesto emphasised. It added that "our ability to realise strong economic growth and significant increases in job creation is reflected in the fact that the country is now enjoying the largest flows of investment in over 30 years."
Accused of not doing enough to tame the twin-monster of crime and violence, the Government has committed to increased investment in the modernisation of the crime-fighting machinery. The legislative framework will also be strengthened, including amendments to the Constitution to give effect to the death penalty for heinous murders.
Emphasis will be placed on the illegal drug trade and the illegal importation of guns and ammunition and the gangs that these activities spawn. Also, a new command centre and a National Intelligence Bureau will be established to consolidate intelligence activities from Special Branch, the National Firearms and Drug Intelligence Centre and the Organised Crime Unit.
Education will continue to receive a minimum 15 per cent of the Budget and more as the economy improves. Within a year, the Government expects full enrolment at the early childhood level, between age four and five. As of next year, all recognised basic schools will be funded at the same level as the Government infant schools and infant departments.
Universal secondary education for all students who leave primary school and 90 per cent average daily attendance at the secondary level by 2005, up from 73 per cent in 1998, is also on the Government's list of priorities. A new university is to be established in western Jamaica by 2004.
In the area of health, 750,000 Jamaicans suffering from chronic diseases will benefit from significantly reduced medication under the National Health Fund.
Among the other promises are: