First Debate on Social issues – and how either party would address those concerns was the agenda at Tuesday’s debate. Members from both political parties – the People’s National Party (PNP) represented by Dr. Dayton Campbell, Lisa Hanna and Raymond Pryce – and the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Dr. Christopher Tufton, Floyd Green, and Kamina Johnson Smith went head-on on matters concerning access to potable water, roads, education and a plan to control crime and violence.
The issue of roads was addressed by the JLP’s Floyd Green
“One of the hallmarks of the Labour Party thus far is the amount of money we’ve invested in infrastructure. We’ve not only invested in urban infrastructure, we’ve invested in rural infrastructure,” said Green. “In places that you’ve never seen roads we have brought roads to.”
Lisa Hanna addressed the issue of education pointing to the work done by past party leaders. “Michael Manley gave free education, P.J Patterson gave the education transformation programme and then Portia Simpson Miller came around -and you know what she did? She made sure that those students could eat and took fifty percent of students off the shift system.”
On the matter of States of Emergency being used as a crime strategy, both parties had differing opinions.
“When the People’s National Party had power between 2012 and 2016 there were no Staes of Emergency and each year three hundred less Jamaicans died than is the case for the nine of the thirteen years that the JLP had been in power,” said Raymond Pryce.
However, the Jamaica Labour Party’s Kamina Johnson Smith, however, rebutted noting that the PNP was getting it all wrong.
“States of Emergency have been one way to fix the problem which rose significantly under the PNP’s 18 years,” she said. “In, fact it was under their leadership that we reached the peak of one thousand and continued to climb.”
One of the main questions was focused on the COVID-19 recovery plan- how would each party manage the pandemic. The PNP’s Dayton Campbell says the PNP would implement stronger protocols.
“The fact of the matter is that the testing has been the Achilles heel of this government. They have not tested enough. The protocol we will put in place to ensure that everyone coming into the country has the PCR test three days before; that persons from high risk tho get to our ports are tested.”
However, Dr. Tufton noted that the JLP administration has responded appropriately to the pandemic.
“The Covid-19 challenge is going to be with us for a while and we need to accept that in a sense learn to live with COVID,” said Tufton. “The truth is that the world is grappling with the challenge and until we discover a vaccine we will take some time to overcome the challenge. What have we done at a government we delayed the virus coming to Jamaica through restrictions.”