Wed | Oct 4, 2023


Most J’can believe country headed in wrong direction, poll reveals

Published:Thursday | March 9, 2023 | 1:05 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter

More than 50 per cent of Jamaicans have indicated that things are moving in the wrong direction, with 62 per cent noting that it costs too much to live on the island. The findings are the results of a People’s National Party-commissioned opinion...

More than 50 per cent of Jamaicans have indicated that things are moving in the wrong direction, with 62 per cent noting that it costs too much to live on the island.

The findings are the results of a People’s National Party-commissioned opinion poll, conducted by the Don Anderson-led Market Research Services Limited between February 17 and 26 among persons 18 years and older who are eligible to vote.

The survey, which included 1,002 respondents, has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 per cent.

It found that of the 53.5 per cent, or 536 participants, who said that things are moving in the wrong direction, 61 per cent also indicated that crime caused things to be going in the wrong direction, 45 per cent pointed to high inflation, 39.9 per cent noted the lack of job opportunities or unemployment, and 36.4 per cent lamented increasing corruption, to round out the top five.

Respondents were able to give more than one reason to explain their assessment of the direction in which the country is moving.

Meanwhile, 18.5 per cent, or 185 people polled, felt that the country was moving in the right direction.

Of that cohort, 48.1 per cent said economic recovery from COVID-19 meant that things were going well, 43.8 said there were more available jobs, 34.1 per cent noted that more jobs were being created, 33.5 per cent were satisfied that government policies were working, and 30.8 per cent said that more businesses were opening.

Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said things have remained the same or that there has been no change.

Of that two hundred and eighty, 55.1 per cent said nothing different was being done by the Government, 42.3 per cent indicated that there was no change in job opportunities, 21.7 per cent said businesses are stagnant, 6.4 per cent said things are changing but slower than expected, and 4.3 per cent said crime and corruption are still high.

The Gleaner was unsuccessful in getting reactions from Robert Morgan, the de facto information minister, to the poll findings.

However, PNP General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell said that the data indicate that there is a disconnect between the Government and citizens and argued that the Andrew Holness-led Government is a “failure”.

He said that having more than half of respondents saying that the country was moving in the wrong direction meant that many are not feeling the things that may be going right with the macroeconomics of the country.

“It’s certainly not being felt on the ground, and that is what you are seeing there,” Campbell said of the poll findings.

He said that the Government must ensure that the economic policies it has in place redound to the benefit of the average Jamaican.

Campbell said that while the Government has announced no new taxes this week, it collects billions of dollars of revenues through indirect taxation.

“It didn’t fall from the sky like manna, you know. It’s the people who are paying those taxes. So you have increased cost of living and you have increased tax collection from the Government. So it simply means that people are having things hard, and there isn’t enough that is being [done to] cushion that crisis on the people,” the opposition party executive told The Gleaner.

“The truth be told is that time come for a new direction to the governance of the country,” he added.

But despite Jamaicans’ dissatisfaction with the direction in which the country is headed, with Jamaica ranked ninth among 33 countries in the region where cost of living is high and a homicide rate of approximately 45 per 1,000 people, the Opposition and its leader have ways to go in terms of overcoming apathy from the electorate.

Campbell said much of that has to do with what people perceive that the Opposition is able to do to make life better for them when in reality, “the Opposition really only can just criticise and put forward suggestions”.

He said many suggestions from the PNP, including removing the requirement for guarantors for students enrolled in the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education to access funds from the Students’ Loan Bureau, which was on Tuesday announced by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, are being implemented without any credit to the Opposition.

“That’s just the way it is. That is why I am saying if you are looking at the disconnect, you have to look at what the intentions of the persons are when it comes to who they are going to vote for and not just those things,” he said.

As for PNP leader Mark Golding’s favourability, Campbell said that it has a lot to do with him still being “an unknown commodity”, having only spent two and a half years at the helm of the party.

“Most of it is the people saying they don’t know him. The opposite is true of the prime minister. He is known. What they are saying is that they have fallen out of love with him and they dislike what is going on. So there are two different problems that the two different political parties are contending with,” he said.

Further, he said that the country currently has a Government “operating only for a few”.

“There are some people in the country experiencing the prosperity, and that’s exactly what the poll is saying, with almost three times the persons saying it’s going in the wrong direction as those who are saying it’s going in the right direction,” said Campbell.

He said the 18 per cent may represent the base of the party and the few connected people who are enjoying life, while the majority, including the public sector, are restive.