Monday 1 June, 2020

Phillips makes Budget contribution; wants visitors banned from gallery

Dr Peter Phillips will make his Budget presentation on Tuesday.

Dr Peter Phillips will make his Budget presentation on Tuesday.

When Dr Peter Phillips makes his contribution to the 2020/21 Budget Debate on Tuesday, it is unlikely that he will have personal visitors in the gallery. That's because the Opposition Leader last Friday called for visitors to be banned from the gallery for the remainder of the Budget Debate in light of what he described as the “rapid COVID-19 spread in Jamaica”.

In making the call, Phillips argued that the decision by Gordon House to suspend all tours to the House of Parliament should be extended to include visitors to the gallery.

Both Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke and Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Mark Golding, have already made their contributions to the Budget Debate and, in both instances, the visitors' galley was packed to capacity.

The Opposition Leader has urged his supporters not to congregate in the usual manner when he's making his contribution on Tuesday.

“We have to be guided by science, the experience in other countries and with consideration for the health of our Jamaican people,” Phillips said in a statement.

“I always enjoy the energy of the supporters in the gallery, and especially during the Budget Debate, but at this difficult time, I believe the health of the people, including our supporters, Parliamentary staff and security personnel should be our priority,” Phillips added.

Jamaica has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday announced a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people as part of efforts to contain the disease.

Phillips pointed out that the gathering in the gallery puts persons in close proximity to each other for an extended time and this should be avoided especially given the rapid spread of the coronavirus that is taking place.

“This is a difficult time for everyone, parliamentarians, frontline healthcare workers, families, communities and businesses. I have faith that we can get through the COVID-19 crisis together, working together and protecting each other,” he said.

The limited space inside Gordon House puts staff, politicians, visitors and journalists in extremely close contact with each other. In several countries a number of parliamentarians have tested positive for COVID-19 and several have died.

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