Phillips flays Government for ‘unfair’ treatment of the poor
Dr Peter Phillips
Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, has assailed the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) for being “unfair” in its treatment of the Jamaican people.
That unfairness, according to Phillips, is being manifested under the ongoing states of public emergency (SOEs) in several parishes.
“This is a Government that is not only corrupt, but it is unfair. Poor people have no rights in today’s Jamaica, it would seem, and are too often treated like second-class citizens in their own country,” Phillips asserted.
He was speaking on Sunday at the annual conference of the People’s National Party (PNP) at the National Arena.
By way of examples, Phillips cited the perceived bias in how aspects of the SOEs were being administered in the parishes in which they have been imposed.
The PNP President also cited by way of example, how prime agricultural lands at Bernard Lodge in St Catherine are being allocated.
Phillips lamented that a ‘round robin dance’ (a venture where operators of a bar usually come together to take turns to support each other) has to be closed down by 9.00 pm under the SOE.
“And yet (Reggae) Sumfest and Dream Weekends can gwaan until a morning. Dat nuh fair! Dat nuh fair!” Phillips declared.
“In the same state of emergency area, the big fast food giants can operate ‘til all kind of hours, 11.00 o’clock, midnight, but the pan chicken man haffi come offa di road at 8.00 o’clock and 9.00 o’clock at night. Dat nuh fair!” Phillips repeated.
“You can’t have one rule, one law for some people and another law for the poor and struggling people, dat nuh fair!” he elaborated.
The Opposition leader also pointed to the controversial Bernard Lodge development as another example of unfairness and mismanagement.
He argued that more than 200 small farmers were thrown off the land despite having long-term leases, and despite a multi-billion dollar irrigation system being on the property.
“All of a sudden, the farmers are told that they must leave the land, dem have other plans for it. Government say the land must use fi housing, so the farmers must stop operations,” Phillips stated.
He argued that this was being done at a time when the country’s food import bill is skyrocketing.
“We are importing more food from foreign now than we were three years ago,” he said.
Phillips charged that the Government has reserved the Bernard Lodge lands for some friends or some other people, and he questioned the process being used in the allocation process.
“This Government will give a foreigner a billion dollar ease on the price of a beach in Ocho Rios, and my God man, a trying Jamaican farmer can’t get a ease fi grow food fi feed his own people. Nutten caan gwaan so!” said Phillips.
His reference to a foreigner ‘getting a break on the purchase of a beach in Ocho Rios’ relates to the Government’s controversial sale in 2017, of the Rooms on the Beach property in the St Ann resort town at a reported price of US$4.6 million below market value, to a Mexican luxury hotel group.