March 31, 2008

PNP Keeping a Close Eye on the CCJ Issue

We are looking closely at this - Opposition
published: Friday, March 28, 2008
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller, who had promised to be the Government's "worst nightmare" said that the Opposition would be watching closely to see whether articulated government policies come to fruition.

Simpson Miller, who is leader of the Opposition, said that the PNP would want the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be placed on to the legislative agenda this year. She spoke to The Gleaner after Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall presented the Throne Speech at Gordon House, yesterday.

CCJ issue

When the PNP was in Govern-ment, it attempted to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the CCJ as Jamaica's court of last resort. However, the Jamaica Labour Party opposed the move, saying that a referendum was necessary to make the decision.

"We are looking closely at this," Simpson Miller said.

She added, "Several of the constitutional matters mentioned are things we had consensus on and others we were still having discussion on".

"They are continuing some of what we were doing," Simpson Miller told The Gleaner.

Among the things promised for this parliamentary year are constitutional reform, passing of the Charter of Rights and justice reform. "All of those were started by the People's National Party when we were in Government," Simpson Miller noted.

Nothing new

Robert Pickersgill, the PNP chairman, is also of the view that the directions as articulated by Sir Kenneth are not novel. He told The Gleaner that it was not the custom of the PNP to comment on the Throne Speech, while adding, "I have not heard anything new.

"It is a continuation of our policies," Pickersgill added. He told The Gleaner that Prime Minister Bruce Golding's first 100 days in office "have long gone and I have not seen any kind of new initiative". Like Simpson Miller, he said that he would be waiting for the Budget Debates for the Govern-ment to chart a clear position.

Come April 1, user fees in public health facilities will be abolished, bringing into being a pre-election promise of free health care made by the Government. Simpson Miller said she was waiting to see how this would work.

"There were some pronouncements made, like, for example, on the user fees in health, and I am waiting to get more information on that to see whether it is something that we would be taking up or commenting on."

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