Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding told last night’s very successful inaugural Town Hall Meeting, at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville, Manchester that he intends to sweep across the island with these meetings to explain the implications of the budget to the public.
“Even though this kind of interaction is particularly necessary now, because of the challenges we have, we really ought to make it a part of our routine. I want to establish it as part of our regimen,” the Prime Minister said
Mr. Golding, obviously buoyed by the large turn out which filled the hall of the hotel and overflowed onto its balcony, said that he had instructed Minister with responsibility for Information Hon. Darryl Vaz, to expand the programme.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding listens attentively to one of dozens of questions posed by the audience at last night’s first in the series of Town Hall Meetings he is having with the public to discuss the implications of the 2009/10 Budget. Seated left to right are: Minister of Finance and the Public Service Hon. Audley Shaw; Minister of Energy and Mining Hon. James Robertson; and Minister with responsibility for Information and Telecommunications in the Office of the Prime Minister Hon. Daryl Vaz (partly hidden).
Mr. Vaz earlier expressed support for the gesture, adding that the Mandeville meeting cost only $335,776, which he described as “money well spent”, in terms of informing the public about how and why their money was being spent.
The Prime Minister answered dozens of questions, ranging from parochial Mandeville Manchester issues, including the fallout of the parish’s bauxite/alumina sector, as well as national and international issues, including taxes, students loans, prices and trade.
One woman demanded that Mr. Golding take responsibility for herself and her two “fatherless” children. One businessman expressed concern that the Government did not purchase motor vehicle accessories from his garage.
Mr. Golding’s team took down the names of several persons, including the woman with the “fatherless” children, and promised to look at their problems.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding rolls up his sleeves as he prepares to field questions from the public at last night’s first in the series of Town Hall Meetings he is holding with the public to discuss the implications of the 2009/10 Budget, at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville Manchester.
The meeting, chaired by attorney-at-law Keith Smith, started promptly at 7 p.m. minutes after Mr. Golding arrived to a thunderous applause outside the hall. It opened with the National Anthem and the National Pledge, which was led by Miss Manchester Festival Queen Lanisia Rhoden and prayers led by President of Bethel Bible College and Head of the Mandeville Ministers’ Fraternal, Dr. Roy Notice.
Prior to Mr. Golding, the meeting heard from Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson on the bauxite/alumina fallout; and Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, on the Government’s vision for reducing indebtedness.
At the start of his presentation, Mr. Golding addressed the issue of the boycott of the meeting by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP).
“It is so hard to do anything in Jamaica without there being some perception that there is a political motive,” Mr. Golding lamented.
“This effort, well intentioned as it is, has not been able to escape that victimisation and I am sorry about that because, quite frankly, that was not the intention. I really want to engage the people of Jamaica,” he said.
The Prime Minister explained to the audience:
“One of the things that I have learnt over my many years in political life, and it has influenced me in so many ways: There was a time that I, perhaps, subscribed to the view that, somehow, if you can only get the people to place in your hands the power to do things, then you can march on to do the things that you set out to do.
“I learnt from just my own observations of all the things that Jamaica could have, and should have achieved, but did not achieve, that if you approach political life and if you approach the business of managing the affairs of the country in that way, you will find that, yes, you may be given the power and, yes, you may march off but, after you have gone a distance, you will look over your shoulder and notice that nobody is following you, because you have not engaged them: you have not made them a part of the mission and the purpose that you are pursuing.”