IT is now time for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to emerge from her reluctance to confront the difficult issues with which the Government has been grappling.
The prime minister, we hold, should use the early days of this new year to give the nation an assessment of how the country fared during 2012, the first year of her second administration. To be fair, the People's National Party (PNP) inherited a very difficult economic situation. However, they have benefited from the absence of a constructive and critical Opposition.
There have been unexpected events which have made the task of economic recovery more difficult, such as Hurricane Sandy and a sluggish global economy. As such, Mrs Simpson Miller should give an evaluation to the Jamaican electorate of how and to what extent her Government has fulfilled the strong mandate it received at the last general election.
There is no room for excuses because the internal leadership issue has been settled, and this Cabinet was picked by her. We emphasise her Cabinet because she did not inherit this executive from her predecessor, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, as was the case in 2006. Mrs Simpson Miller therefore cannot avoid delivering a dispassionate evaluation of the performance of the members of her Cabinet.
Now would be an ideal time to strengthen the Cabinet by weeding out the non-performing dead wood, having rewarded them for long service to the party and their work in the general election campaign. She should consider whether performance was a reflection of proven ineptitude or being placed in the wrong ministry.
Some weak performers, of which there are several, may do better with a different portfolio responsibility or less difficult assignments. Some of the performers may have to be reassigned to more vital and challenging ministries. Some younger people who have had a year of exposure can either be discarded, retained or promoted.
The prime minster could choose to be bold and consider bringing in some talented and experienced persons to strengthen the Cabinet. Whatever she chooses to do, Mrs Simpson Miller must ensure that the executive comprises the best talent to serve Jamaica. The criteria for selection must be a record of performance and proven ability, rather than commitment to the PNP and seniority in the party.
The problem facing the prime minister is that the dead wood that needs to be pruned is at the top of the PNP tree. Some have been among her most loyal supporters, motivated by a considerable amount of opportunism.
She, therefore, must be willing to sacrifice the comfort of her age cohort, must not underestimate the difficulties to be faced in 2013, put the national interest above the interest of the PNP, and bear in mind that this could be her last term and hence her legacy.
The prime minister is a charismatic personality, and there are many patriotic Jamaicans ready to serve their country and who do not underestimate her capacity to get qualified professionals to serve the Government.
Prime Minister, we implore you to remember that new shoots can only emerge and blossom when the dead wood has been pruned.