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Crafting a Cabinet - Holness urged to mix youth and experience with strong representation from women

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Shahine Robinson
Audley Shaw
Juliet Holness
Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn
Fayval Williams
Desmond McKenzie
Derrick Smith
Karl Samuda
Daryl Vaz

Prime Minister-designate Andrew Holness is being urged to include some of the young first-time members of parliament (MPs) in the Cabinet he is expected to name this week.

According to Denise Brown, director of quality management and institutional research, and lecturer in law at the Northern Caribbean University, the Cabinet should be a melting pot of the young and old talent available to Holness.

"Holness should consider a mixture of experienced lawmakers and newcomers, especially based on the whole matter of technology advancement and development," Brown told The Sunday Gleaner less than 24 hours after the Jamaica Labour Party was elected to form the next government.

"The Holness administration has to put some focus on foreign trade and investment, which must play an important role if the administration is serious about finding solutions for the country's weak economy," said Brown as she pointed to health as a ministry that will need strong and competent leadership.




She said education, unemployment and national security are also key areas, and Holness should also focus on bolstering local and foreign investment.

Brown named first-time MP Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn as the possible minister with responsibility for sports, and fellow first-time MP Juliet Holness for housing. Another newcomer, Fayval Williams, is her pick to join Audley Shaw in the key Ministry of Finance.

The university lecturer said political veterans Karl Samuda, Derrick Smith, Desmond McKenzie, Daryl Vaz and Shahine Robinson should also be in the Cabinet

For political commentator and Gleaner columnist Mark Wignall, Holness has to ensure that he has the right persons in the key ministries of finance, industry and commerce, security, and education.

"The most important ministry would be finance because the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme cannot - in any way - be derailed. It must be maintained," said Wignall.

"But based on the fact that Holness touted the tax policy, which I believe was an election winner, to me, he now has to deliver on that," added Wignall, as he argued that the new government will have to work "magic" to fit the tax promises into the current IMF programme.

"I don't know how he is going to avoid getting Audley Shaw into the finance ministry. It was the one way for him to show a sort of healing after the previous internal election fight, so I can't see how Shaw won't be involved at the highest level," said Wignall.

The veteran commentator, declining to name his choice for the security ministry, argued that this portfolio is "little more tricky".

According to Wignall, the persons selected to lead the ministries of security, and industry and commerce must understand the intricate ties between their roles and those of the persons with responsibility over the finance and education ministries.




"I would not wish to pre-empt the discretion of the prime minister in naming this Cabinet; however, I agree when he stated in his acceptance that the people want to change the way in which government works," offered political commentator Professor Trevor Munroe.

"A priority has to be to put persons in the Cabinet who will vigorously implement the changes related to governance in the JLP manifesto. The Cabinet should also be smaller in keeping with the commitment in the governance proposals of the manifesto," added Munroe.

He argued that Holness' goal should be to reduce the size of the Cabinet to 11 ministries, even though this might be difficult this time around.

With finance, education, justice, and national security among key ministries which he wants to see with strong leadership, Munroe argued that there needs to be a significant percentage of the Cabinet who are women and young.




But Munroe's concerns about the size of the Cabinet is not shared by a lecturer at the Mona School of Business and Management, who asked not to be named.

"You always hear people taking about the Cabinet is too large and this and that, but I think your Cabinet size is determined by the strategic plans that the Government has," said the lecturer.

"Apart from the 10-point plan, which tells me nothing, the Government needs to say what it is focusing on and who are the persons you have to choose from to put in particular areas," added the lecturer.

Up to late yesterday, no date had been set for Holness to be sworn in as prime minister, but JLP insiders told The Sunday Gleaner that the aim is to have him in the post no later than Wednesday, with key Cabinet appointments announced immediately after.

Holness had previously announced that he would be issuing job letters to members of his Cabinet to ensure that high-level performance is maintained.

According to Holness, the job letters, which he plans to make public, would have a timeline of two years and six months from the date of their appointment with key performance targets, which are agreed upon by the Cabinet.

He has warned that there would be consequences for failing ministers.