‘Disappointed but not surprised’: Holness on Golding’s ticket stance

“I was disappointed but not surprised.”

It was Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s response to Opposition Leader Mark Golding who on Tuesday blasted Holness and the government over the administration’s failure to consult with the opposition before deciding to place images of former prime ministers Michael Manley and Edward Seaga together on a new $2,000 bill.

Manley currently appears alone on the $1,000 bill, and on Tuesday, during his contribution to the 2022-23 budget debate, Golding told the government that “if a new $2,000 bill is needed, that’s very good. Put Mr. Seaga on the $2,000 bill, but leave Michael Manley on the $1,000 bill.

He chastised the government for “being arrogant” in not consulting the opposition and claimed that unveiling new banknotes would not ease the plight of the people.

“How is that relevant at a time like this?” Golding asked rhetorically.

“Apart from all the stupidity of the unveiling of the new banknotes, the approach reflects a deeper problem of arrogant governance,” the opposition leader said.

“The government has chosen not to consult the opposition on the design of the new banknotes, even though the proposed design involves powerful symbolism affecting some of our great political leaders,” he added.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke announced the overhaul of the country’s banknotes at the opening of the budget debate on March 8. He said placing Seaga and Manley – the two bitter contemporary former rivals who presided over one of the most politically charged and violent periods in Jamaica’s history – is a major step towards healing the nation. But Golding suggested on Tuesday that Clarke was cynical and trying to twist the story. Golding even lambasted Seaga and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for allegedly undermining Manley in the 1970s.

When responding on Thursday, Holness said Cabinet, after considering the matter, had decided that decisions should not be made for political gain.

“These narrow political decisions should never go beyond our larger vision of who we are as a people,” he said.

Continuing, he said: ‘The Leader of the Opposition stood up and gave a presentation that recalls the days we will (rather) soon forget, resurrecting the worst tribalism.’

The Prime Minister said like Golding that he could ‘bear and make all sorts of accusations about the 1970s period, but ‘I don’t see myself in that light’.

“My role is to learn from the past and not make those mistakes again. My role, especially in the 60th year of our independence, is to unite Jamaica,” Holness said.

He said that for a child to get the new banknote and see Manley and Seaga together represents a “powerful image of unity, it’s a shift in tribal mentality.”

He then said that “I was disappointed but not surprised” with Golding’s response to the decision.

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