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Opposition says PM 'hiding' environment portfolio at OPM

Published:Saturday | March 12, 2016 | 3:00 AMJovan Johnson
Pickersgill

The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) says it is not pleased that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has disbanded the environment and climate change ministry and is instead "hiding" it in his office.

Holness has been facing backlash from environmentalists since Monday when he unveiled his ministries, and a specific ministry of environment was not among the 14 named. He later issued a statement saying that the portfolio had been relocated to his office, where it will receive his direct oversight and benefit from the other portfolios there.

However, Robert Pickersgill, the environment and climate change minister in the previous Portia Simpson Miller-led administration, said the portfolio was being "hidden".

"It should not be hidden. It should be on the forefront," he told journalists ahead of being sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives.

He also noted that the previous administration was praised for naming an environment and climate change ministry. According to him, it was visionary.

"I think I have to see how that plays out. I believe this has been tried before. Bruce Golding first had the portfolio under him at OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) and it seemed to suggest priority given to it, but, in fact, there was too much demand on the PM's time and it did not result in the environment being given priority," said Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com