Pressure is mounting this afternoon on the governing People’s National Party to reverse it’s decision not to participate in the national debates.

The country’s most powerful business groups led by Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, are calling for the debates to proceed, with or without the PNP.

PSOJ President, William Mahfood, says the groups will issue a second joint statement in two days, re-affirming their stance on the issue.

Mr. Mahfood told our news centre yesterday that he would speak with the Prime Minister Simpson Miller about the importance of the debates.

Today he told us he had not spoken with the Prime Minister yet.

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Mr. Mahfood says political debates are part of the evolution and maturity of the country’s democracy.

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There’s also growing disquiet and opposition to the PNP’s decision on social media and civil society.

AND… the Opposition JLP says it stands ready to debate alone next week if there’s no reversal of what its describing as the PNP’s arrogant and cowardly stance.

Addressing a media briefing at the JLP’s Belmont Road Headquarters this afternoon – Daryl Vaz accused the PNP of having contempt for the people of Jamaica.

Vaz says the JLP is ready to debate alone next week.

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Mr. Vaz dared Prime Minister Simpson Miller and Finance Minister Dr. Phillips to answer questions in a National Debate next week.

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Several business groups, public commentators and Jamaicans on social media have been questioning why the PNP has decided not to participate in the national debates.

Generation 2000 President Matthew Samuda says he has an idea.

Samuda says the PNP is attempting to hide from accounting for not fulfilling commitments it had made in the 2011 election debate.

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Mr. Samuda says it’s disappointing that the PNPYO and young intelligent members of the PNP have not made public their disagreement with the PNP’s debate stance.

He says the PNP has no moral authority to question Andrew Holness’ house.

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The Jamaica Debates Commission, JDC, has written the PNP, asking them to reconsider their decision not to participate in the national leadership debates.

The PNP indicated yesterday that they’ll not participate unless certain conditions are met.

Among the conditions is a change in the debate format to the town hall style used in the US Presidential election.

They’ve also demanded an apology from JLP Leader, Andrew Holness, for his con artist reference to Prime Minister Simpson Miller.

The proposed dates for the debate are February 16, 18 and 20.

A resource member of the Debates Commission, Trevor Fearon, says for that schedule to hold, the PNP must respond by this afternoon.

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Meanwhile, the Press Association of Jamaica, PAJ is also urging the PNP to participate in the debates.

PAJ President, Dionne Jackson Miller, says the public should not be deprived of the debates because of a political squabble.

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