Samuda vows to bring 'a lot of energy' to ministerial role

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Samuda vows to bring 'a lot of energy' to ministerial role

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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GOVERNMENT Senator Matthew Samuda has promised to bring vigour and hard work to his freshly assigned role as minister without portfolio assigned to the Ministry of National Security, one of the toughest ministries in the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet.

“I plan to bring a lot of energy, a lot of hard work to whatever I'm assigned to do, and this is a real opportunity to serve the people, and I intend to give it my all,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, minutes after being sworn in as a Cabinet minister by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at King's House in St Andrew.

Asked if this was something he had seen coming, he said: “In politics you work towards certain things, and this is where politicians aspire to be. It's really like you've been given a chance to do the best for the people, so it's an awesome responsibility and I'm looking forward to the challenge.”

The 35-year-old, who is the youngest member of the Upper House, replaces former senator Pearnel Charles Jr, who resigned from the Cabinet to contest the Clarendon South Eastern by-election, after the constituency seat became vacant when Member of Parliament Rudyard Spencer resigned on February 5.

Under the Constitution, there must be at least two and a maximum of four Cabinet ministers from the Senate. The other senator in the executive is Kamina Johnson Smith, the foreign affairs minister.

“With this appointment, the constitutional requirement for Cabinet-level appointment from the Senate would be met,” the Office of the Prime Minister said in a brief release announcing the appointment yesterday.

Opposition spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson, said he hopes Samuda will succeed in having the Government finally provide a crime plan and rethink the current approach to managing crime.

“Whatever has been done by Government over the past four years, violent crimes are higher than before. This fact is no longer debatable, the data confirms the failure,” Jackson stated.

Samuda is a former president of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party's young professional arm Generation 2000 (G2K), and has served in the Senate since 2016 when the Jamaica Labour Party defeated the People's National Party in the general election.

Samuda has been the face of the Government's plastic ban policy, outlawing the manufacture, distribution and use of specified single-use plastic bags and styrofoam products used in the food and beverage industry. The ban on specific categories of single-use plastics took effect on January 1, 2019, while the ban on styrofoam took effect on January 1, 2020.

Among the tough tasks Samuda will be taking on alongside portfolio minister Dr Horace Chang is a murder rate which has already galloped past 100 in the first month of this year.

In addition to 1,326 reported murders last year, the country saw 3,417 serious and violent crimes — an increase of 2.9 per cent over 2018.


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