PNP accuses Holness of 'shifting wrongdoing ministers'
The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has accused Prime Minister Andrew Holness of adopting a "strategy of shifting around ministers, who are guilty of policy breaches or wrongdoing to Jamaica House and to new portfolios and keeping them in the cabinet to oversee the same policies."
PNP General Secretary, Julian Robinson made the accusation in a statement Friday afternoon after Cabinet minister JC Hutchinson was stripped of his responsibility for agriculture in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister over controversial land transactions involving the Holland Estate.
Robinson said it was the second time within a month that the prime minister had merely given new portfolios after determining that the ministers are guilty of breaching policy at the level of the government and Cabinet.
“First it was Minister Vaz, who was involved in the Holywell protected lands issue, and now Minister JC Hutchinson, involved in a clear act of nepotism concerning the Holland lands, who have been given new responsibilities, despite the prime minister acknowledging egregious breaches of policy," Robinson said, noting that the policy was unacceptable and runs counter to ministerial sanction in the face of wrongdoing, including corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
According to Robinson, the PNP does not regard ministerial portfolio changes as sanctions and as such these changes should not be considered punishment for wrongdoing. Reshuffles are in keeping with normal prime ministerial administrative powers and discretion, he said.
Robinson said the party wished to register its most forceful repudiation of this method of disciplining or sanctioning of ministers who he said rightfully ought to be removed from the cabinet.
He repeated calls on the prime minister to remove Hutchinson from the Cabinet for “clear breaches of established procedures".
He charged that, if the prime minister refuses to boot Hutchinson from the Cabinet, it can only be assumed that under the principle of collective responsibility, the entire cabinet supports his action and "intends to exist with this nauseating scourge of corruption over its head."