'Absolute madness'! Paulwell slams Holness’ MSET move
That’s how Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell, has described the decision of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to temporarily assume responsibility for the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology.
Paulwell’s comments come amidst news reports on Thursday that the prime minister had taken charge of the ministry in the wake of the resignation of former portfolio minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley.
Wheatley was in charge of the portfolio until he was toppled by several scandals which rocked a number of state-owned entities for which he had responsibility, in particular Petrojam and National Energy Solutions Limited (NESoL). He resigned two weeks ago.
Paulwell, who was in charge of the portfolio in the previous People’s National Party (PNP) Administration, expressed concern about Holness’ move.
“The Prime Minister is taking on too many portfolio responsibilities. It is going to lead to total inefficiency. It is going to lead to stagnation and a situation in the Government that will ensure that nothing is done,” Paulwell told Loop News on Thursday.
“Jamaica House is now becoming the sole point of focus of the Administration, and that cannot work, it is a recipe for disaster,” Paulwell added.
He predicted “total disaster, especially on the energy side that is so crucial to the development of this country”.
Still doubtful that the announcement was credible, Paulwell said: “I hope it is incorrect information”.
When told again that the announcement had come from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the opposition spokesman added that, “I can’t believe that the prime minister would make such an asinine statement about additional portfolios going to Jamaica House. It is just stupid.”
The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation is located in the Office of the Prime Minister and based at Jamaica House. The prime minister aside, there are three ministers without portfolio in Daryl Vaz, Karl Samuda and Mike Henry, along with Minister of State, Everald Warmington.
Political commentators had anticipated that the prime minister would have asked one of his fellow ministers to take on the important MSET portfolios, or added a new minister, given his own responsibilities as prime minister, which includes him being the minister of defence.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has since clarified that the portfolios of science and technology have not been moved to that office, as had been indicated in a report by the Jamaica Information Service which was subsequently withdrawn.