Cut out the foolishness about aging Gov't ministers!

Cut out the foolishness about aging Gov't ministers!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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We are obviously pleased that, as we have urged him to do in this space, the prime minister has made full appointments to the key ministries of education and labour and social security.

Of course, we do not kid ourselves that he did so for our pleasure. The PM is clearly looking down the road and strategising as to who best to deploy where, based on the personnel available to him.

At the same time, we are disappointed that the political discourse over the appointments has deteriorated to a mere preoccupation with the age of the two ministers Mr Karl Samuda, 78; and Mr Mike Henry, 85.

We are not aware that the two Cabinet ministers are ailing and unable to function because of age-related issues. They certainly have plenty of experience and that has to count, especially in taking up the leadership of ministerial portfolios.

We would have been more worried about age if Mr Henry did not have the 42-year-old Mr Zavia Mayne, and Mr Samuda the 43-year-old Mr Alando Terrelonge as their junior ministers, understudying and getting the requisite experience to take over when and if the time comes.

There is a tendency in Jamaica to not sufficiently appreciate the indispensable value of experience. Generally speaking, we as a nation lose a lot of skilled professional and institutional memory when we retire people at the age of 65. This afflicts both the private and public sectors.

What would concern us, if it can be called that, is that the appointments may be more about politics than about the running of the ministries, as predictions get more rife that a general election and possibly local government elections are likely to be held in August or September.

With the election coming sooner than later, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has to put its candidates in their constituencies for as much time as possible. Messrs Samuda and Henry are in constituencies which the JLP are sure to retain and so these two venerable elders can largely be spared from the forthcoming campaign.

On the other hand, their young junior ministers can spend more time concentrating on the hustings, which will be much more challenging, given the raging coronavirus which eliminates the holding of risk-free mass rallies.

In any event, if indeed elections are near, why would the prime minister appoint long-term ministers and shuffle his Cabinet in the short time left between then and now when he should be crafting a new Cabinet — assuming that the JLP wins an election that the Opposition People's National Party is looking more purposeful about these days.

All that aside, we wish to note the appointment of a new leadership and board at the troubled Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) with two very experienced veterans who previously served in senior roles at The University of the West Indies.

A new head has to be appointed at the University of Technology, Jamaica to succeed Professor Stephen Vasciannie in time for the start of the new academic year.

As universities all over the world trim top-tier staff, a lot of good people should be available, and so they should have no problem finding a suitable candidate.

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