'No wholesale shuffling, PM'

Commentator says Reid's replacement should come from Senate or backbench

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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AT LEAST one political commentator is urging Prime Minister Andrew Holness not to reshuffle his Cabinet in light of the resignation of Minister of Education, Youth and Information Ruel Reid.

Reid tendered his resignation yesterday, following allegations of nepotism and corruption at the ministry and related agencies.

Political pundit Martin Henry, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, said Reid's replacement should come from the current pool of state ministers, backbenchers and senators.

“What I would not recommend is that there is any wholesale shuffling of the present slate of ministers to find an education and information minister. I would think that the place the prime minister needs to look would be among the ministers of state, as he plucked Fayval Williams out of [the Ministry of] Finance to head [the Ministry of] Science, Energy and Technology, or from the backbench, or among his senators,” Henry stated.

“What I would strongly advocate is that he does not shuffle the current pack, having made recent changes, but to seek fresh talent from those three sources — junior ministers, backbenchers or among his 13 senators,” he added.

In March last year, Holness announced changes to his Cabinet, affecting five ministers, including then Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw, and five junior ministers.

Shaw was replaced by newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew North Western Dr Nigel Clarke, who had served as deputy chairman of the Government's Economic Growth Council and was a Jamaica Labour Party senator between 2013 and 2015.

Clarke retained the support of minister of state in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams before she was earlier this year promoted to minister of energy.

Former trade union leader Rudyard Spencer, who was also a minister of state in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, was shifted to the Ministry of National Security.

Shaw was moved to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, and was earlier this year joined by former minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green, in another Cabinet shuffle.

Then Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda was shifted to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, where he replaced former minister without portfolio Dr Horace Chang, and joined the other minister without portfolio, Daryl Vaz.

The other major shift was that of Robert Montague, the then minister of national security, to the Ministry of Transport and Mining, replacing veteran parliamentarian Mike Henry, who was shifted to the Office of the Prime Minister to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former MP for St Andrew North Western Derrick Smith.

Dr Chang, the general secretary of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and veteran MP who represents one of the most vulnerable constituencies in violence-hit St James, was shifted to the Ministry of National Security, while junior minister in the ministry Senator Pearnel Charles Jr was moved to the foreign affairs and foreign trade ministry.

Former minister of state in the Culture Ministry Alando Terrelonge was earlier this year shifted to the Education Ministry.

The prime minister said yesterday that his office will take charge of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for the time being.

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