Sunday 23 September, 2018

Another Cabinet reshuffle coming, says Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has signalled that another Cabinet reshuffle is imminent as he prepares to divest himself of responsibility for the tough energy portfolio which he pulled from Dr Andrew Wheatley prior to Wheatley’s resignation from the Cabinet as Science and Technology Minister over two weeks ago.

In March of this year the prime minister made a limited reshuffle of the Cabinet that affected seven individuals.

Holness, who was answering questions at his quarterly media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Wednesday, said a minister of science, energy and technology will be appointed as soon as he takes care of some policy issues, including properly empanelling some boards that have expired.

When asked specifically how soon he will replace Wheatley and whether there will be a reshuffle of the Cabinet, the prime minister said: “There will be some moving around… I don’t want to use the term (reshuffle), but it’s obvious that there will be some realignment. (There will be) some changes obviously, and I have already started consultations on that just to make sure that in making those changes, that in correcting one problem, I don’t create another problem.”

He noted that the public is “entitled to be anxious about what is happening, (about) why it isn’t moving faster…”

And for persons, including members of the parliamentary Opposition, who have expressed concern that the prime minister has taken on too many portfolio responsibilities, Holness said the current state of affairs is only temporary.

“I don’t want to have too many portfolios under my direct supervision, so I agree totally with the concerns raised by many Jamaicans about the size of the ministerial responsibility (I have taken on), not just the size of the OPM…,” said Holness.

He said he is putting in place the necessary solutions “to ensure that very early I can divest myself of some of the responsibility that I have taken on.”

But he argued that some of the portfolio areas are inescapable when you are the prime minister, who is ultimately responsible.

He further argued that "the portfolio of energy is so critical to national development, and there are so many issues in that portfolio that require the attention of the prime minister to get them resolved."

Holness said after dealing with some issues, including properly empanelling some boards, “then I will appoint the new minister.”

Wheatley resigned as Science and Technology Minister after being stripped of the energy portfolio by the prime minister in June in the wake of the Petrojam and NESoL scandals that rocked the Government.

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