JLP revives plan for Portmore as 15th parish; PNP not for it

JLP revives plan for Portmore as 15th parish; PNP not for it

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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THE People’s National Party (PNP) yesterday rubbished a proposal by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to transform Portmore — one of Jamaica’s largest communities — into a parish, arguing that the ruling party is “uninformed and out of touch” with the affairs of the municipality.

The announcement was made by campaign spokesperson for the JLP, Kamina Johnson Smith, during the virtual launch of the party’s manifesto from its Belmont Road Headquarters in St Andrew, yesterday.

“Portmore will be our 15th parish. This was a vision shared by former Prime Minister [Bruce] Golding and it had not come to fruition. We are renewing that vision to ensure that Portmore, with its young vibrant population, will have the opportunity to have its own municipal corporation so that it can collect its own property taxes and determine its own development plan to ensure that it can be all that the citizens of Portmore want it to be,” said Johnson Smith.

The proposal is a renewed one, first announced in the JLP’s 2007 manifesto put forward by then JLP leader Golding.

At that time, Golding proposed to amend the Counties and Parishes Act to separate Portmore from the parish of St Catherine and make it the country’s 15th parish.

Johnson Smith said the JLP, if given a fresh mandate, will oversee the creation of a Portmore Tech City Park “leveraging the great youthful trained and trainable population that already exists”.

She said this will facilitate the expansion of the already existing business process outsourcing sector to grow into global support services.

This, she added, would ensure the development of greater opportunities in animation, accounting, and back-end legal support to push employment.

But PNP chairman and incumbent candidate for St Catherine Southern Fitz Jackson, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, said the “pie in the sky proposal” is an attempt to woo the electorate, who have consistently voted for the PNP.

“I have not heard what are the advantages they are proposing to come from being a parish? What are the advantages they are proposing to mitigate any current challenges? We believe quite frankly it’s nothing,” Jackson noted.

He said that the municipality was created with specific goals in mind which it has begun to achieve.

“It was created to see to the maintenance of the infrastructure oversight that a parish council provides its communities. The problem we had was that the St Catherine Parish Council was preoccupied only with the rest of the parish in dealing with the issues that affect the communities in the parish. And so we now have the instrument, the municipal authority, to do those things and have been doing them and doing them quite successfully. What we need to do is to do more,” Jackson argued.

He maintained that the proposal lacks purpose, outcome and is a vision that is wanting of inclusiveness with residents who, he said, it will ultimately affect.

Jackson concluded that the reasons given for pushing the change for Portmore are already being done.

“Property taxes are being collected from Portmore [and] taxes from motor vehicle are being shared to the Portmore Municipality. So they have fallen asleep or lack knowledge of what is happening in Portmore. The very things that they say they are seeking to achieve are already occurring and that makes it empty and in keeping with the kind of promises that the prime minister has made such as job description for ministers, a referendum for the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justic], Jamaica becoming a republic, 5 in 4 economic growth, sleep with your windows and doors open. It’s all another set of promises, and I dare to add to the $18,000 promised to everybody that has only been realised by less than 70,000 persons throughout Jamaica,” Jackson told the Observer.

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