Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Phillips: Judge me on my record - PNP president insists plans pitched on Sunday are doable

Published:Tuesday | September 24, 2019 | 12:25 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
PNP President Dr Peter Phillips making his president’s speech at the party’s annual conference at the National Arena on Sunday.
PNP President Dr Peter Phillips making his president’s speech at the party’s annual conference at the National Arena on Sunday.

Dr Peter Phillips has asked Jamaicans sceptical of his political promises to examine his “track record” and that of the People’s National Party (PNP) he leads.

“Judge me on my record of what I have done in all the areas in which I have served,” Phillips declared yesterday, less than 24 hours after he reeled off a list of policies a PNP administration led by him would pursue if given state power.

In his address at the party’s 81st annual conference on Sunday, Phillips said a Government led by him would revamp the National Housing Trust (NHT) to ensure all contributors can derive a benefit as well as enact legislation that would allow for paternity leave.

He announced, too, that legislative changes would be enacted to make it easier for “the ordinary Jamaican” to get land title; the PNP would lead “the most comprehensive assault” on the long-standing problem of squatting; the first child in every family to qualify for tertiary education would be assured of a full scholarship; and that every primary- and secondary-school student would be guaranteed one meal per day.

Phillips acknowledged yesterday that “our political process has not been perfect” before asking Jamaicans to “judge us on our performance”.

“I can’t claim that my service was perfect, but I can tell you it was sincere, it was energetic, it was with integrity, and it has been driven by an understanding that this is the only country we have that we can call our own,” he insisted.

The PNP president vowed that his proposed legislation to tackle squatting would be tabled in the House of Representatives within the first 100 days. Already, he said he is pushing to have an internal commission examine “some basic drafting efforts”.

“I won’t say all will be completed within the 100 days, but we certainly intend to begin the assault within the first 100 days. We are far along the path,” he insisted.

Paternity leave

Phillips disclosed that his party is still studying the rules that would guide the proposed paternity leave regime, but made it clear it is not intended to be a “free-for-all”.

“Let me say it plainly: if you have eight babymothers, you not getting eight leave. That’s not what we are talking about,” he told reporters during a press conference at the PNP’s St Andrew headquarters. “It is the acceptance of responsibility that we intend to drive with this ... . [It] is not just that you say, ‘Yeah, a my youth dat,’ but that it carries other responsibilities.”

Phillips also sought to explain that his plan to ensure all NHT contributors derive a benefit does not necessarily mean a new house. Instead, he said it will seek to develop a “much wider menu of benefits”.