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Cabinet warning - Holness declares zero tolerance approach to corruption among ministers

Published:Tuesday | March 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) with the Cabinet ministers and state ministers who will make up his executive after they were sworn in at King’s House in St Andrew yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday sounded a warning to his new Cabinet that he would be taking a zero-tolerance approach to corruption among members of his administration.

The caution came only two hours after he revealed the team that would make up the Cabinet of the new Jamaica Labour Party Government.

"I should not have the need to remind ministers that they must at all times conduct the affairs of the country with the highest level of integrity,"declared Holness.

"But it is important that I repeat it. Corruption will not be tolerated in this Government."

Noting that the Government is made up of 14 full ministries, headed by 18 Cabinet-level ministers, Holness declared that he was leading a smaller Government.

He said this was the first signal that his administration intended to be efficient and prudent.

"This is a tangible difference, as we are not only interested in changing the Government, but we are committed to changing how Government works," he said.

Political analysts have been keeping a watchful eye on the new Holness administration in light of criticisms levelled at previous administrations for creating what have been described as unnecessarily large Cabinets.

"For us to accomplish this (small Government), it requires a mature political outlook and the building of public trust," asserted Holness.

He reiterated that the administration he leads would be frugal with public affairs.

"This takes precedence over our own personal desire for status," he said.

According to Holness, the people who form the Government must be willing to sacrifice first and to defend the long-term good of the country over short-term gratification.

He stressed that the focus, direction and priority of the new Government was to grow the economy, create jobs and reduce public debt to sustainable levels.

"I have organised the Government to accomplish this," he added. "You will notice the combination of the Ministry of Agriculture with Industry and Commerce.

"This is a clear signal of intent to accelerate and intensify the vertical integration of agriculture into commercial activity."

He added: "Not just with agro-processing, but with marketing and finance."

PRODUCTION NODE

He claimed that "any deep reader will see the intention to create a production node in the growth network".

Holness also highlighted the fulfilment of his promise to create a Ministry of Economy and Growth and Job Creation.

"It should not come as a surprise that it is in the Office the Prime Minister (OPM)," he said.

"It pulls agencies from all over Government that are instrumental to growth amid job creation."

He said he would be assisted in the OPM by three ministers without portfolio - Daryl Vaz, Derrick Smith and Dr Horace Chang.

"The benefit of the ministry, aside from investment and growth promotion activities, will be the central coordination and logistical planning of the growth agenda.

Said Holness: "But more importantly, the political imprimatur (a person's authoritative approval) of the Office of the Prime Minister and getting our projects approved and getting the growth agenda advanced, accelerated and implemented."

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com