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Opposition names 16-member team

No space found for MP Mike Henry

BY INGRID BROWN Observer senior reporter browni@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 20, 2012    

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OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness yesterday named a 16-member shadow-Cabinet, all of whom he said will be responsible for promoting an area of advocacy which will be representative of the policies of a future Jamaica Labour Party Government.

A noticeable absence from the team, however, is Mike Henry, the long-serving Central Clarendon MP who resigned as transport and works minister days before the December following an audit of the Jamaica Infrastructure Development Programme, for which the then administration faced heavy criticisms.

The shadow Cabinet has seen Holness relieving himself of the education responsibility and has taken on defence, development, operations of the Office of the Prime Minister, as well as participation in all national debates.

The other 15 persons who will be in the forefront in representing national issues facing the country and offer oversight to the operations of the Government are:

* Audley Shaw - Finance, Planning, Growth and Economic Development

* Delroy Chuck - Justice, National Security, Electoral Matters and Leader of Opposition Business in the House

* Senator Arthur Williams - Information, Public Service, Labour and Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate

* Dr Kenneth Baugh - Health and Quality of Life

* Karl Samuda - Transport, Works and Infrastructure Development

* Edmund Bartlett - Tourism and Travel Service Development

* J C Hutchinson - Agriculture, Mining and Natural Resource Use

* Daryl Vaz - ICT and Digital Society Development

* Horace Chang - Housing, Water and Environment

* Shahine Robinson - Social Security and Poverty Reduction

* Gregory Mair - Industry, Commerce and Energy

* Olivia 'Babsy' Grange - Youth, Sports, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Culture

* Desmond McKenzie - Urban Renewal, Rural Development and Local Government

* Senator Christopher Tufton - Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Investment

* Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert - Education and Human Resource Development.

"For us it is not just spokesperson on finance and planning but we believe that growth and economic development is an issue that must have a national focus and therefore the spokesman on finance and planning will not just be overseeing what the minister of finance and ministry is doing, but we will be putting forward our own policies for economic growth and development," Holness said.

Holness, who was addressing a press conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition at West Kings House Road in Kingston yesterday, said the spokespersons will have a public education role as well, as this is very important in reconnecting with the party's base.

"We have heard from the last election and last Government that we had good policies, that we had very good intention with those policies but we needed to have taken the time to educate the public and our base about these policies so that they themselves would believe and understand what it is that the government was trying to do," he said.

"... So while we are in Opposition the spokespersons will take the time to conduct public education, so yes, we will be overseeing and scrutinising what the Government is doing but we will be proactive in our advocacy for national issues and we will be taking the time to educate the public on those issues we feel are important to the Government," he added.

The Opposition leader, at the same time, said his shadow Cabinet intends to be a performance-based pool of spokesperson and as such there is no permanency to the positions as the tenure of service will be dependent on how well the members perform.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament will be chaired by Shaw, while Bartlett will chair the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee; Ruddy Spencer will chair the Human Resource and Social Development Committee; Pearnel Charles the Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee; Everald Warmington will head the Economy and Production Committee and Derrick Smith will chair the Internal and External Affairs Committee.

Holness said he tried as best as possible to ensure that the spokespersons are in the Lower House of Parliament in order to match their respective ministers and a similar pattern has been adapted for the Senate in order to ensure a robust debate.

He explained further that the shadow labour portfolio which would normally be in the Lower House is now attached to Public Service and Information which is now in the Senate with Senator Williams.

He explained further that the shadow labour portfolio which would normally be in the Lower House is now attached to Public Service and Information which is now in the Senate with Senator Williams.

"I believe that if it were in terms of constructing a ministry that would not be the case but seeing that a shadow spokesperson role does not necessarily have the same obligations as a minister we could get away with that combination," Holness told journalists.

He said although the justice portfolio is held by a Government senator, the Opposition has placed the shadow justice portfolio with Chuck in the Lower House.

"I expect that regardless of the minister being in the Senate and the spokesperson being in the House that there will still be robust exchange," Holness said.

Citing the development of ICT as an example, Holness said the Opposition also wanted to see the development of a digital society spreading ICT in the country.

At the same time, he said infrastructure development has been added to transport and works as Jamaica needs to develop a world class infrastructure.

"Health and quality of life is very important as our retirement population is growing; what quality of life do they enjoy what services are available for them who advocate for their needs it is not just merely social security we have to focus on reducing and eventually eliminating poverty in our society and that is the focus of our team," Holness said.

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