Letters to the Editor

Holness has done a pretty decent job

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Dear Editor,

I have never voted, but I do follow politics and national issues closely.

Even a cynic like me must concede that, as far as politicians and State leaders go, Andrew Holness has done a pretty decent job. For the first time in decades there seems to be renewed interest in advancing Caricom and the single market. We no longer hear the frequent horror stories of Jamaicans being discriminated against as they travel regionally. Holness seems to have used his chairmanship to kick some life into the almost moribund regional body.

Internationally, he seems to have been a hit. No other Jamaican prime minister has had the international exposure and access afforded to Holness. G-7, BRICS, G20 summit invitations, his success at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and a UN special assignment for climate financing with French President Emmanuel Macron are major platforms. My cousin who lives in London called me to say the Jamaica prime minister was a rock star in London during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Jamaicans may not know of how Holness skilfully manoeuvred the Windrush saga, using the Commonwealth platform to push for compensation and restoration of Windrush 'victims' who were denied their citizenship while at the same time not further embarrassing his host British Prime Minister Teresa May.

Holness, apart from being prime minister, is also the minister of economic growth and job creation, which incorporates a third of the Government. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, 1.3 millions Jamaicans are now employed — the highest level of employment in the history of the statistics being recorded in Jamaica. Economic growth has been low but steady, poverty is down, business and consumer confidence remain high, housing and infrastructure development are booming.

Petrojam has been a blotch on an otherwise respectable performance. Nonetheless, the prime minister has shown careful dexterity in handling this 'no win' issue. Unlike such previous dramas in which the antagonist escapes accountability, the prime minister followed a different script, balancing the imperatives of a narrow majority while exacting accountability. Wheatley was stripped of his ministry after a review process, has been made to reimburse for the ill-advised birthday party, and has been banished to the backbench to learn humility and pay penance through working on poverty issues.

The biggest success in my opinion, however, is the reduction in murders and violent crimes. Holness has been resolute with criminals, but respectful of rights. Again, this is a tricky balancing act. In his own words, Jamaicans can be proud that for the first time in our history we have deployed state force giving them extraordinary powers and they have not used it violently against the citizens. This is historic!

Notwithstanding another successful year for the prime minister, I believe it is now time for him to consolidate. He has borne the responsibilities well, as minister of the super Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, minister of energy and science and ICT, plus de facto minister of national security. When do you rest, Prime Minister?

In 2019, I expect the prime minister to unload some of the burdens to others and shift focus to the politics. The Opposition feels entitled to power and will be relentless. If Holness can maintain the creditable performance he has started with, and maintain decorum and respect and dignity of government, maybe I will vote for him.

R Williams

rosheanjwilliams@gmail.com


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