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JM | Jan 14, 2022

PSOJ expresses optimism at GOJ Cabinet reshuffle

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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The Hope Road headquarters of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), located in the capital Kingston. (Photo: psoj.org)

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) says the recent Cabinet shuffle announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness is a step in the right direction and anticipates the resumption of a “smooth working relationship” with the Government. 

The PSOJ, in a statement on Thursday (January 13), argued that given the double-whammy impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and crime, the Holness-led Government owes a debt of transparency and accountability in all its affairs to the people of this nation.

“We believe that overall, it demonstrates a degree of stability and focus to the Government’s strategic areas, which are needed at this time given the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 across various sectors and our dire crime levels,” the powerful corporate body said. 

While the PSOJ welcomed the appointments of Pearnel Charles Junior, Derrick McCoy and Floyd Green, it was concerned by the decision to solely keep Karl Samuda as ministerial lead in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security without a deputy as previously established. 

There are additional anxieties at the ‘superministry’ merger of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which now sees the absorption of both environment and climate change portfolios.

“It is imperative that these policies reflect an integrative approach with our economic [sustainability] goals as opposed to being isolated. With proper governance and control mechanisms in place, we believe that these agendas may be able to thrive in unison rather than to hinder progress made whether in the environmental or economic development realms,” the PSOJ urged.

See statement in full below: 

“The PSOJ has noted the changes made by PM Andrew Holness to the cabinet recently. We believe that overall, it demonstrates a degree of stability and focus to the Government’s strategic areas, which are needed at this time given the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 across various sectors and our dire crime levels.

Following an earlier appeal by the PSOJ for a designated Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the PSOJ is pleased to note its implementation under the leadership of Pearnel Charles Jnr and Minister of State, Frank Witter. 

We hope to see proactive and innovative policies being implemented to drive growth in this critical sector.

With the appointment of Minister Malahoo-Forte to lead the Ministry of Legislation and Constitutional Affairs, we hope to see an increased pace in matters dealing with the legislative agenda with specific focus around education and crime reduction.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second left), with newly appointed ministers and state minister, following a virtual swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday (January 11). They are (from left) Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Floyd Green; Former Attorney-General and now Minister of the newly created Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Franklin Witter. (Photo: JIS)

The PSOJ believes the decision to have the Information portfolio as a standalone ministry is needed at this time as the Ministry of Education and Youth requires a singular focus to ensure we address the issues plaguing our education system including the significant learning loss experienced by our students since the onset of the pandemic. 

Further, it is critical that the public receives consistent engagement on the policy commitments of the administration through the Information Ministry.

The appointment of Derrick McKoy as the Attorney General is a welcomed move, as we note the vast breadth of experience and expertise, he brings through his distinguished legal career.

We acknowledge the move to merge the responsibilities of the Environment and Climate

Change under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister, which also entails the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

It is imperative that these policies reflect an integrative approach with our economic [sustainability] goals as opposed to being isolated. With proper governance and control mechanisms in place, we believe that these agendas may be able to thrive in unison rather than to hinder progress made whether in the environmental or economic development realms.

The PSOJ also welcomes the appointment of Senator Aubyn Hill to the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and we look forward to seeing the policies outlined under his stewardship to bolster the ministry’s key targets.

We appreciate the clarity provided around the role of Minister without Portfolio, Floyd Green on the implementation and rollout of the NIDS programme, which we believe is a critical component to our development as a digital society. 

Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Floyd Green, taking the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office at Jamaica House on Tuesday, January 11. Photo taken from live broadcast. (Photo: Facebook @AndrewHolnessJM)

To this end, we urge the Prime Minister to provide further details on the roles of the ministers without portfolio within the OPM and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

It was our expectation that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, now being lead solely by Karl Samuda, would have had a Junior Minister assigned as seen in the previous appointments. 

The mandate of labour reform is extensive and critical to the nation’s growth and as such could continue to benefit greatly from succession planning within the leadership of this ministry.

The PSOJ maintains that the Government of Jamaica owes a debt of transparency and accountability in all its affairs to the people of this nation. We remain a committed partner in enabling sustainable growth and productivity and will continue to monitor this trajectory as we

work to build a resilient economy. We hope to see in coming iterations of the Executive the utilisation of the brightest minds in the most strategic positions.”

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