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New Jamaica cabinet sworn in – PM promises frugal and efficient government

Andrew-Holness-2 cabinet-2016-700x475From JIS

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness on March 7 charged members of his newly-appointed Cabinet to conduct the affairs of the country with the highest level of integrity, even as he committed to leading a frugal and efficient government, and to build public trust.

Prime Minister Holness named 14 ministries, headed by 18 Cabinet level ministers to help steer his partnership for prosperity agenda.

Delivering remarks at the Swearing-in ceremony for members of the Cabinet and State Ministers at King’s House, Mr. Holness noted that the structure of the Cabinet is an important signal to the country, especially investors and entrepreneurs who want to understand the direction, priority, and underlying ethos of the government.

“This is the first signal in the test that we intend to be efficient and frugal in government. This is a tangible difference that we are not only interested in changing government, but we are committed to changing how government works,” Mr. Holness stated.

“For us to accomplish this, it requires a mature political outlook and the building of public trust. Trust that as a government we will be frugal with their (the public’s) affairs, and that this takes precedence over our own personal desire for status. For the government to be successful, the people who form the government must be willing sacrifice first and to defend the long term good of the country over short-term expedient gratification.”

He expressed confidence that the team selected for the Cabinet are willing to make that sacrifice and defend the long-term good of the country.

Reiterating that the priority of his administration is to grow the economy, create jobs and reduce public debt to sustainable levels, Mr. Holness pointed out that the government has been structured and organised to accomplish that goal.

He specifically referenced the move to combine the agriculture portfolio with industry and commerce. “This is a clear signal of the intent to accelerate and intensify the vertical integration of agriculture into commercial activity. Not just with agro-processing, but with marketing and finance.”

The Prime Minister also highlighted the establishment of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. “It should not be a surprise that it is in the Office of the Prime Minister. It pulls agencies from all over government that are instrumental to growth and job creation,” Mr. Holness said. He explained that the function of the Ministry will be to facilitate investment and to act as the central coordination and logistical planning of the growth agenda, noting that the authority of the OPM will help accelerate the approval of projects and the growth agenda.

Underscoring the importance of local government, Mr. Holness also observed that despite recent constitutional reforms that suggest limited need for ministerial oversight of local government, “Growth starts at the root.”

“The many proposals for development start in the communities. We intend to build a stronger partnership with local government not just to reform the structure of local government, but to improve their efficiency and business processes,” Mr. Holness stated.

The Prime Minister committed to working in partnership with the civil service/public sector to create an efficient and agile bureaucracy that is creative and entrepreneurial to respond to the changing needs of investors.

With 43-year-old Andrew Holness taking the helm of government in Jamaica for the second time, his new Cabinet was sworn in on Monday.

The new prime minister, who took the oath of office and the oath of allegiance during his inauguration last Thursday, created history in 2011 when, at age 39, he became Jamaica’s ninth and youngest prime minister.

He was appointed after Bruce Golding resigned as prime minister, and served from October 2011 to January 2012.

With the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) victory in the February 25 polls, he received his first electoral mandate from the Jamaican people, and with it, the distinction of being the youngest person to be twice sworn in to the most powerful executive position in Jamaica’s political directorate.

Holness is also the first person born in Jamaica’s post-independence era to serve as prime minister. He was born ten years after the country gained independence in 1962.

Also notable is the fact that Holness is the first prime minister whose spouse will also serve as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives during the same parliamentary term.

Juliet Holness, in her first general election outing, successfully contested the East Rural St Andrew constituency during the 2016 parliamentary polls, while Mr Holness retained the West Central St Andrew seat.

In delivering his inaugural speech on March 3, Holness indicated that he intends to lead a government of partnership, pointing out that the “solutions to our problems do not rest with the government alone.”

“To achieve the vision of shared prosperity through inclusive growth and meaningful job creation, now more than ever, government must lead, activate, empower and build real partnerships,” he emphasised.

“The sum of our potential exceeds our problems; our collective capabilities are greater than our challenges. But it is only through partnership that these capabilities and this potential can be seized, harnessed and realised for the good of Jamaica,” he added.

In this regard, Holness extended an invitation to former prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, who will now serve as leader of the opposition, to work with him.

“We may not have been on the same side of the road; (but) as much as possible, we should hold hands in cooperation to overcome obstacles for the good of the country. I still believe it is a useful symbol of national unity for the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to appear together in zones of political exclusions,” he stated.

Cabinet Ministers:

• Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation

• Horace Chang, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister

• Derrick Smith, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister

• Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister

• Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs

• Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance and Public Service

• Fayval Williams, Minister of State in Ministry of Finance and Public Service

• Rudyard Spencer, Minister of State in Ministry of Finance and Public Service

• Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture

• JC Hutchinson, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture

• Robert Montague, Minister of National Security

• Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security

• Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice

• Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information

• Floyd Green, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information

• Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Energy, Science and Technology

• Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government

• Mike Henry, Minister of Transport and Mining

• Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism

• Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health

• Shahine Robinson, Minister of Labour and Social Security

• Olivia “Babsy” Grange, Minister of Entertainment, Sport, Culture and Gender

• Marlene Malahoo Forte, Attorney General


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