Wednesday 22 May, 2019

JCC concerned after two ministers resign in eight months

Ruel Reid (right) resigned as Education Minister on March 20, eight months after Andrew Wheatley (left) stepped down as Energy Minister. Both men departed their posts amid allegations of corruption.

Ruel Reid (right) resigned as Education Minister on March 20, eight months after Andrew Wheatley (left) stepped down as Energy Minister. Both men departed their posts amid allegations of corruption.

The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) has expressed concerns over the resignation of two ministers within months.

The chamber was reacting to news of the resignation of Education, Youth and Information Minister Ruel Reid on Tuesday, amid allegations of impropriety with respect to the ministry.

“While we commend the prime minister for initiating this process, we nonetheless are concerned that in a matter of months, two Cabinet-level ministers have had to step down,” the JCC said in a statement.

Reid’s sudden departure from the Cabinet follows the forced resignation of then Energy Minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley last July at the height of the Petrojam scandal.

The Petrojam scandal enveloped the government for most of 2018 and has continued into 2019. In total, there were eight high profile resignations related to the Petrojam scandal as well as those involving other state agencies, namely the Universal Service Fund and National Energy Solutions Limited (NESoL).

The JCC said while it’s not aware of the details of the recent allegations against Reid, one benchmark of good governance is that if there are substantive imputations of impropriety, the persons at the centre of those allegations should step aside - even temporarily - without the shadow of their presence casting doubt on the investigative process.

“This principle, we believe, recommends itself throughout all facets of the public sector,” the group said.

Reid also resigned from his post as a senator.

“We look forward to quick and transparent updates on the process and the results of the pending investigation”.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Karl Samuda has since been assigned responsibility for the Education Ministry.

 

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