Letters to the Editor

Who is 2017's best-performing minister?

Monday, January 01, 2018

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Dear Editor,

While the jury is still out on the overall performance of the Andrew Holness-led Administration for 2017, there is one question that has been making the rounds in and outside political circles: Who has been consistently the best-performing minister over the past year?

Some of the names which have been bandied about include Finance Minister Audley Shaw, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, and Education Minister Ruel Reid.

Shaw, who has responsibility over the nation's purse, was a very calm head in his dealings with the international lending agencies as well as, for the most part, keeping the exchange rate under control, ensuring a level of economic stability, and calming the fears of investors.

Tufton also distinguished himself in the handling of several problems facing the health sector, especially the crisis at Cornwall Regional Hospital, in Montego Bay, from which patients and health services had to be relocated for safety concerns. Actually, in any other year he might have been the overwhelming choice.

And while the trio of Johnson Smith, Reid and McKenzie also had their moments, there is one name that towered over the entire Cabinet and would be on any list as the unanimous pick for the best-performing minister for 2017: Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

So dominant was Bartlett that, under his watch, Jamaica scored a number of firsts including the once seemingly unattainable milestone of recording four million visitors in a single calendar year. Along the way there was also the matter of Jamaica surpassing Barbados as the leading Caribbean nation for British travellers, the recording of over US$1.2 billion in earnings in just a six-month period and, maybe the biggest of them all, Jamaica's successful hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization conference on sustainable tourism — the largest tourism conference of its type to ever be staged anywhere in the Americas.

There was also the matter of cruise ships arriving in record numbers, and where earlier in the year every single port in the country, including Kingston and Port Antonio, had a cruise ship call, making it the first time ever Jamaica had seven ships calling in a single day.

What he will do for an encore in 2018 is anybody's guess but, like him or hate him, Bartlett, from any objective analysis, was the undisputed star for 2017 in the Holness-led Cabinet.

Camille Miller

Ironshore, Montego Bay





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