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Revisit NEPA's placement in super ministry - Golding

Published:Thursday | June 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Mark Golding

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Mark Golding has raised concern about the placement of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in the super Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Golding argued that what was needed in Jamaica was sustainable development, noting that "economic growth without equity and which violates environmental imperatives is a recipe for continued underdevelopment".

Debating the Appropriations Bill in the Upper House on Tuesday, Golding cautioned that with this governance structure, environmental protection will be subordinated to the "political imperative of churning out large construction projects as rapidly as possible".


Checks and balances


He reasoned that at a time when climate change is the greatest existential threat facing mankind, it is unacceptable to have no structural checks and balances that will ensure environmental sustainability while the country targets rapid growth. "Those checks and balances cannot be effective if they are internal to a Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. This approach needs to be revisited by the Government as a matter of urgency," Golding stressed.

Under the previous People's National Party government, the NEPA was part of the then Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change.

Commenting on the structure of the Andrew Holness administration, Golding pointed to the super Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, which, he said, was conjoined with the Office of the Prime Minister and had subsumed most of the major departments and agencies that directly affect the economy such as the Port Authority of Jamaica, the National Housing Trust, the Urban Development Corporation, and the National Road Operating and Constructing Company, among others.

"With just two permanent secretaries to serve the PM and his four ministers without portfolio, this is a recipe for bottleneck and frustration. Government operates by a system of laws and procedures based on those laws," he added.

Golding pointed out that unless the bureaucratic support structure is in place to drive the efficient execution of policies and programmes, what will result is error and delay.

He said that the key to unlocking efficiency in Government was to work with the key technical support personnel via sustained and close management of critical bureaucratic processes to achieve the desired outcomes.