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Top minister of 2018

Sunday Brew

with HG Helps

Sunday, January 06, 2019

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Many will say that with the tourism sector performing as it is, that the title of best performing minister should go to Ed Bartlett. While Ed has done his job, tourism has been on the upswing for several years, and it is good the minister has managed to hold things tight and build on the foundation that was laid.

But I wonder if there will be deserving accolades too for some of the less prominent who have been quietly transforming the landscape. Two of the names that readily come to mind are those of Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck, and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

I'm not sure that enough credit is being given to Chuck for the steps that he has taken to speed up the wheels of justice, even though some judges have been offended. Maybe we should pay closer attention to the moves that have been made, with sentencing reduction days, the increase in the number of judges, creation of additional space, among other things.

Chuck has outdone his predecessor, the equally brilliant Mark Golding, over a comparable period. As for Grange, she has been doing what four others from the former administration did collectively, and I dare say, she has outdone them all.

She is, in my estimation, the best sports minister that we have had since Hugh Small in the 1970s and Errol Anderson in the 1980s. A look back should also be given to Desmond McKenzie at the local government ministry who stepped up his game last year. For 2019 there must be less talk and more action in areas like Education, Agriculture, Health, Industry and Commerce, and Energy, the latter which suffered from the hands of a misfit, and which must be corrected forthwith with a new appointment.

THOSE PARTISAN APPOINTMENTS

DOES anyone yearn for a time to come when political activists are effectively barred from holding certain key public offices unless proof can be provided that they possess the requisite skills that can be used to improve the organisations?

That ought to be the focus of political administrations in years to come. Two national agencies come to mind right away — the National Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Firearm Licensing Authority. Garbage management, as simple as it might seem to some, is an art.

What we have been witnessing in sections of the Corporate Area for several years, and the management of the Riverton landfill, cannot be where we want to go as a city. As nice a man as former parish councillor Audley Gordon is, he clearly is not the man to head garbage collection in the Corporate Area, in the same way that Jennifer Edwards before him was never the woman. But being close to their respective party leadership, they got a job that was clearly above their heads. This has to stop.

The first order of business must be to search for a garbage disposal professional to handle that business. The Firearm Licensing Authority too has been plagued by people who have not demonstrated any quality leadership in that sensitive area. There are too many inadequacies and we must be careful as we push forward. That, too, is being headed by a former active politician from the ruling party. What more can be said?

TIME FOR BILLY HEAVEN TO GO

THEN there is the whole business of Jamaica's cricket. That, too, has lost its way. The firing of Robert Samuels as coach of the Jamaica national team, The Scorpions, is somebody's short cut, or if you may, band aid approach to solving a much deeper challenge.

Robert Haynes has taken over as coach and there is no doubt that “Pro” can bring a higher level of stability to the team than Samuels could have. However, like Cricket West Indies, or for those who prefer the West Indies Cricket Board, because nothing has changed, there also needs to be a shaking up in administration.

Jamaica has not won the regional four-day championship since 2011. Again, it's not that the talent is not available, but certain administrative support structures are missing.

CAMERON, BOARD MEMBERS MUST LEAVE WEST INDIES CRICKET

IS there any hope that West Indies cricket will fare any better this year and beyond? For my take, not as long as those who now 'administer' the game remain behind that steering wheel. West Indies cricket has brought too much glory to the Caribbean region for it to continue being everyone's laughing stock.

There is no question that the talent is here in the region from which strong teams can be selected. However, that will not materialise under the indifferent selection policies and the failure of Cricket West Indies President Whycliffe Cameron and his executives to insist that some prima donna players cooperate in making themselves available to represent the West Indies in Test cricket, in much the same way as they do in the one-day and Twenty/20 format.

When West Indies cricket can go so low that Bangladesh is not only beating the team in all formats, but doing so in embarrassing fashion, it's time for those in charge to step aside and allow people who are capable of charting a better course to step forward. But then the question will have to be posed: 'Have they no shame?'.

And by the way, which bright guy came up with the idea of having one of the men directly responsible for the lowering of standards of West Indies cricket now appointed to serve as team coach, even “interim” as we are told? Richard Pybus is the kind of joke that you don't laugh at.

When will the administrators learn that it will take West Indies-flavoured noodles placed in the pot to bring about the soup that will again nourish the game in the region? There are so many former players around: Gordon Greenidge, Gus Logie, Andy Roberts, and Phil Simmons, the latter, who, if he can be forgiven by egotistic forces, would serve well to resurrect the West Indies potion.

IT WAS CHICKV, IT'S NOW DENGUE FEVER

FINALLY, there is confirmation that Jamaica is now facing a dengue fever epidemic. The semi-false focus is on the Ministry of Health to be the lead agency in ridding Jamaica of this scourge, but controlling the spread of dengue fever is in much the same way a function of the solid waste agencies, and the spotlight must also be focused on the Ministry of Local Government in this regard.

Dr Fenton Ferguson was almost nailed to the cross and sacrificed by even his own Comrades when there was a CHICKV outbreak four years ago. The Ministry of Health was forced to face the music at a time when local government seemed the likely culprit in not playing its role effectively by controlling mosquito breeding sites. Why should this one be different? The minister of health should not be the sacrificial lamb here if things get out of control (God forbid).

We must demand a collective effort from the State organisations involved, with local government playing the lead role, and the private sector, some businesses of which are directly contributing to the situation, throwing support behind the mission.

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