KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Sunday outlined the achievements of her ruling People’s National Party (PNP) since it came to office in 2011 as party stalwarts, including former prime minister PJ Paterson, urged unity amid mounting speculation that Jamaicans will go to the polls this year.
She said Jamaica had passed all nine quarterly reviews targeted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the multi-million dollar Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
In 2013, Jamaica entered into a four year US$948.1 million EFF agreement with the IMF and that the island’s Jamaica’s debt has been reduced and that the country is in a much better position than it had been in 2011 under the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
But while she spoke of increased job opportunities under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), an emotional Prime Minister Simpson Miller told supporters attending the party’s annual convention at the National Arena here that she sending a strong message to people bent on molesting children.
“You better stop it now, I going to see to it that you get the full penalty of the law if you rape a child,” she said announcing new efforts by her administration to bring the perpetrators to justice.
She said the audience that once a child has been raped, it scars that child for life and used herself as an example, to say that had she been raped while growing up in her St Catherine community, she would not be the woman she is today.
“I am saying, take it from Portia today, I don’t care who you are, stop it! Don’t do it! Stop it demons! You are demons!,” she said, adding “ I am going to come to court and look in your eyes”.
She urged communities to rise up and protect children.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller also acknowledged that she was “very concerned” about the increase in murders this year, saying “we cannot turn a blind eye to criminal activity”.
But she warned that there would be “no safe haven for criminals” and that the government had increased its support for the security forces, financially and otherwise, as well as implementing legislative changes.
“We will continue to be unrelenting in fighting crime and violence in Jamaica,” she said.
Last year, just over 1,000 people were murdered here.
The convention, expected to be the last before Jamaicans go to the polls to elect a new government, was taking place amid speculation that they would do so before year end.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller, while she made no direct reference to the elections, constitutionally due in 2016, told supporters that they should be prepared to “Hold the Fort for I am coming” adding “Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!”
The statement was greeted with thunderous applause from the audience more so as she told the opposition JLP to “shut your mouths” and allow her government to govern the country.
Prior to her address, the PNP general secretary, Paul Burke, said the party was not yet prepared to face the electorate.
Burke said there is no indication yet from its president Simpson Miller to head to the starting blocks and that the party is still doing its ground work.
The Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) of the party has called on its regional chairpersons to immediately refer for its attention disputes in its early stages to prevent escalation and disunity.
“The IAC feels that in many cases comrades at the level of the region are too close to the problem and too often disagreements are not addressed in a timely manner and they fester and escalate,” The IAC said in a report, adding that it believes that it offers an impartial and objective forum which will be more effective in achieving a resolution.
In his address to the convention, Patterson called for unity among the members of the 77-year-old party as it prepares to face the electorate.
“This is a time to heal…to ensure that the good health of our Party is restored,” Patterson said, adding “this is not a time to break down; it is a time to rise up and build!.
“Let us remember the good seeds that our Party sowed, so that we can reap when the time of harvest comes,” said Patterson, who led the PNP 1992 to 2006.
He said it was important for the PNP to remain in government, in order to maintain Jamaica’s good name in the international community.
“We cannot afford to run the risk of having the reputation that we have developed, for living according to our word, to be undermined by any administration in the years to come,” he told supporters.
Meanwhile President of the PNP Women’s Movement, Jennifer Edwards, said she is confident that Jamaican women will support the party in the next general election.
She told supporters that women have been the largest beneficiaries of social policies of the PNP administration of the 1970s and were still the organisers and constituency workers since the party’s inception.
Edwards told the conference that the PNP Women’s Movement would stand with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller when the trumpet sounds.