Security at top of Ja agenda

Opposition Leader Bruce Golding Sunday told thousands of supporters that a Jamaica Labour Party Government would place security concerns at the top of its agenda.

Mr. Golding, speaking at the JLP’s first annual conference since he ascended to the party’s helm, also announced to the thousands of green-clad supporters who crammed into the National Arena that former Police Commissioner, Trevor Mac-Millan, has already agreed to head a special team charged with developing an action plan on crime.

He said the plan would be used by the JLP, once it gains state power, to ‘get a grip’ on the crime problem.

“I want to emphasise that it is not just another committee that is going to study crime and the causes of crime. We have studied that time and time again,” the Opposition Leader stressed. “They are going to be asked to identify the resources that are required and where those resources must most effectively be applied.”

He said the team would also be asked to look at the management of the police force and the systems that would be required to ensure that the police force was held accountable. The team would also be asked to synchronise the initiatives recommended for the Force with the social policy initiatives required for effective policing.

“What I want them to do is to give me a blueprint that will put the police ahead of the criminals and to put the criminals where they belong, behind bars,” Mr. Golding said to cheers from the crowd.

Meanwhile JLP Member of Parliament, Mike Henry, who had appeared alienated from his colleagues after a bitter campaign against Mr. Golding’s run for leadership and in support of Pearnel Charles, was called to the stage yesterday and gave his unequivocal support to the new party leader and the path of the JLP.

Mr. Golding said he would, in a matter of days, announce the names of the other members of the special team on crime. He also stressed that it was not a JLP team, but a team of eminent persons “who are unquestionably qualified” for the assignment.

The team’s report is to be submitted to Mr. Golding in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition.

The JLP leader said the JLP also planned to introduce a host of constitutional reforms once in Government. He reiterated previously stated commitments to put a constitutional cap on the amount any government could borrow, as well as introduce deficit controls to prevent any government from slipping the nation into massive debt similar to what has been incurred under the People’s National Party.

He also said a future JLP government would pay special attention to small and medium-size businesses and agriculture, as those areas are capable of creating far more employment than big business.

Mr. Golding also revealed that there were only two points remaining to be clarified under the seven-point Memorandum of Understanding between himself and the JLP which allowed his return to the party just prior to the 2002 general election.

He said he and the party had not yet agreed on the questions of term limits and the separation of powers.