'Trust the prime minister's judgement'
Hotelier supports Cabinet changes but views on reshuffle mixed
SAMUDA... served as labour and social security minister

WHILE the general consensus among some of the nation's leaders that this week's Cabinet reshuffle was minimal and insignificant, there are some who expressed high hopes and confidence in the prime minister for the changes made.

Hotelier Jason Henzell said he had confidence in the members of the Cabinet who have been shifted to other portfolio areas and have taken up new ministerial roles.

He pointed to former Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Pearnel Charles Jr, now appointed minister of labour and social security, "whose father, Pearnel Charles Sr, left a big legacy in labour and social security so I'm sure he will do well in that position".

Henzell — who is chairman and chief executive officer of Jakes Hotel, Villas and Spa — also noted that Floyd Green, who was minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, "is an excellent fit for that [agriculture] ministry".

SHAW... left out of Cabinet

He said he was particularly looking forward to the massive US$200-million irrigation project on the Pedro Plains Irrigation Scheme in St Elizabeth coming on stream, which the prime minister announced during his recent budget presentation and deemed a national strategic project.

Henzell said he also believes Daryl Vaz's assignment of the transport portfolio is a good fit.

The businessman said the country should thank former ministers Audley Shaw and Karl Samuda who were dropped from the Cabinet after long careers in politics.

"There are no 'bad marks' against their names; they made tremendous sacrifices for the country. So, I think as well as congratulating the new young ministers we should also take time to just salute the older generation who made their contribution," he said.

Countering those who hold the view that the shifts were insignificant and that there are other ministers who should go, Henzell argued that it is very easy for those on the outside looking in to cast doubt, "but I think the prime minister, sitting where he's sitting, is in the best position to make those judgment calls".

He added: "I feel as though, particularly in the case of Dr Nigel Clarke and Dr Christopher Tufton [who have both retained their finance and the public service, and health and wellness portfolios] we have two exemplary…world-class minds and ministers," he said.

Henzell said he believes the prime minister is restructuring his Government in a respectful way. "I think we have to trust his judgement," he said.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Oral Heaven also told the Jamaica Observer that the organisation agrees that the agriculture, fisheries and mining ministry "is in good hands, and we wait to see the leadership of young Green". He noted as well that Dr Norman Dunn assisting Charles Jr at the labour and social security ministry "is an excellent move as he has so much to offer".

"The addition of Dana Morris Dixon [to be responsible] for skills and digital transformation speaks to the direction in which we need to go as a nation and is welcomed, as we need to keep our skilled people here in Jamaica and also ensure we keep up with the global digitisation. We will definitely pay close attention to this portfolio," he said.

He noted that for the ministers who have retained their portfolios the focus will now be on how they perform, along with the new ministers, "to help us move this country forward".

"We trust the job descriptions and accountability will be in place as these will assist in performance and the effectiveness of each portfolio minister," he said.

In the meantime, civil society advocate, development policy analyst, and political commentator Carol Narcisse, however, had a differing view on the new Cabinet. "There is nothing that can be discerned from the shuffle that would suggest anything significant," she said "so it's all left to be seen…They don't have a lot of time before the next election, especially with new persons like [financial executive Senator Dr Dana Morris Dixon having to prove her mettle].

"For me, there really isn't much to remark on in the reshuffle other than that it's very minimalist. It's surprising that some ministers survived the shuffle," she said.

President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Metry Seaga meanwhile pointed out that there wasn't any major reshuffling other than that the two elder statesmen, Shaw and Samuda, have been left out, "and understandably so".

"So there haven't been many shifts. I, quite frankly, expected more major shifts, but that's what the prime minister sees fit to take us into the next election so we'll see how it goes. The people always have the final say," he said.

Also commenting on the Cabinet reshuffle, senior financial executive Dennis Chung said that while he is satisfied with the slight restructure, "the listing of actions and the accountability measurement is more important than the reshuffle".

At a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a few changes to his Cabinet, which now excludes former Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda and former Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw. The latter ministry no longer exists, with the portfolios having been subsumed into two other ministries. These are the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, led by Floyd Green with the support of minister of state Franklin Witter; and the Ministry of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, headed by Daryl Vaz with minister of state JC Hutchinson.

Other changes announced by the prime minister include the appointment of Marsha Smith as minister of state in the Ministry of Education and Youth; Alando Terrelonge, minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade;. Zavia Mayne, state minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; and Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, state minister in the Ministry of National Security.

BY ALECIA SMITH Senior staff reporter smitha@jamaicaobserver.com

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