Jamaica's evolving whatnot

Jamaica's evolving whatnot

Monday, September 14, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Jamaicans have creative names to assign to the Government's large Cabinet. Some have been saying it's a “breakfront” or “whatnot”!

In commenting on Prime Minister Andrew Holness's appointment of a 19-member Cabinet, with nine state ministers and three ministers without portfolio, political commentator Kevin O'Brien Chang asked: What is the purpose of a minister without portfolio?

It should be noted that in 2012 Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller appointed 20 Cabinet ministers, with eight junior ministers, and four ministers without portfolio.

In defence of the size of the executive, jokingly then called a whatnot by many Jamaicans, she said: “I have added some young persons so that they can begin to understudy the seniors. What I am trying to do now is succession planning.” ( The Gleaner, January 7, 2012)

We hope that those young people who survived the recent general election as Members of Parliament can now lead the People's National Party (PNP).

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in responding to the size of the 2012 Cabinet expressed, through its spokesman Arthur Williams, that: “The party takes issue with the decision of the prime minister to appoint four ministers without portfolio.” ( The Gleaner, January 9, 2012) It went on to label it extravagant.

In 2016, the Administration led by Andrew Holness named an 18-member Cabinet, with four ministers of state and three ministers without portfolio. They must have been suffering amnesia.

In the end, we hope that our ever-evolving whatnot will achieve the desired development and prosperity for the people of Jamaica.

Dudley C McLean II

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