Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PNP manifesto gets mixed response in MoBay
CHARMAINE CLARKE, Western Bureau Editor
Tuesday, September 17, 2002



THE People's National Party's manifesto was a big hit with Indru Dadlani. He is the vice president of the Montego Bay Inbond Merchants Association, and was among those who turned up at the Half Moon Conference Centre yesterday afternoon to hear the party's vision for the country if it is given the mandate to govern for the next five years.

"It's ... not a wish list, it's just building on and moving on. I was very impressed," he said.

"Now is the time for debate and discussion. But I am more convinced that it's a stronger manifesto. I'm very sympathetic to the PNP," he added.

Cecile Walden, principal of the Sam Sharpe Teacher's College heard enough to make her happy that the PNP had a plan for the way forward.

"I am happy to see the vision that is coming out. It gives me hope and I am prepared to work with whatever happens," she said. "I haven't read it (the manifesto) and over the next few days I am going to read it but I am really happy to hear what has happened with education, in particular, in the west. It was a long time in coming and we're looking forward to working with it."

She was referring to the PNP's plans to build a new university in the western end of the island.

Responding to questions after the presentation, broadcast simultaneously by satellite from Kingston, education minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman offered a few details on the project.

According to Whiteman, the facility, which has been on the drawing board for some time, will focus on three main areas:

* tourism;

* information and communication technology; and

* English and Maths.

"It is very likely, initially, to be in a college relationship with another university until it grows and develops its capabilities," Whiteman said of the proposed university.

Mark Kerr-Jarrett, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce wanted to see the full document before making a firm assessment of the manifesto but said that based on the outline document he received and what he heard the PNP appeared to "have everything in place that is necessary".

Meanwhile, managing editor of the Western Mirror and political commentator, Lloyd B Smith, commended the PNP for the easy-reading summary document but described the unveiling of the manifesto as anti-climactic.

"This is a manageable piece of document, you can do a quick read of it and digest what's there. "But... from my cursory look at the manifesto there is not much new. I was looking for something, a centerpiece. I am still trying to find that."

Former Montego Bay mayor and political commentator Shalmon Scott contended that there was more than enough time to digest the PNP's plans as they were not unfamiliar to the country.

"Because the manifesto is not just a body of new, nebulous ideas I would not be overly concerned about the concern (that it was released too late to be properly scrutinised)," he said.