Mon | Oct 23, 2017

PM has confidence in Reid, Montague ahead of Cabinet reshuffle

Published:Friday | September 22, 2017 | 12:53 AMErica Virtue
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Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday told journalists that it was not the intention of the Government to withhold information, although the Government’s chief spokesman has had to offer numerous clarifications on policy issues from Cabinet after they were made public.

Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid has been fingered as one of the weak links in the Government for his inability to articulate government policies and positions on several issues, the most recent being misinformation on the re-engagement of the communications radar systems, which affect the arrival and departure of flights from our air space.

Reid, the education minister, has been ridiculed in both portfolios for his failure to articulate information that is clearly understood and factual. And even as the prime minister confirms that a Cabinet reshuffle is coming, he would not say if Reid, along with Robert Montague, the national security minister who has been severely criticised for his handling of the portfolio, would still have their jobs.

MANAGING DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION

Asked if he was concerned about how policy information was communicated to the public by the information minister, the prime minister said that his government believed transparency was the way to go.

“In terms of information delivery, I think this Government has approached it in a very transparent way. We make ourselves available, and we have regular and routine interface with the press, but like all governments, as you can see with the United States and other countries, managing the dissemination of information is never easy, and sometimes we don’t get it right. Sometimes we don’t get it accurate,” the prime minister admitted.

Offering assurance to the press, he said, where errors and mistakes are made, the posture of the Government is to be corrected, accept the errors, and inform the public of the correct position after verification.

‘Not easy to stand behind microphone and deliver information’

“It’s not easy to stand behind a microphone and deliver information. Sometimes what you want to say is not what is heard. It is a skill, and people literally have to be trained in it. And so, yes, we do have a programme internally of trying to coach our spokespersons to provide the information to the public,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness told journalists attending his quarterly press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

The prime minister said that there was no nefarious intent when information was provided to the public.

Several questions have also been raised about the stewardship of the national security portfolio and its handling by Montague. It is felt that the prime minister’s ownership of the zones of special operations programme, piloting the bill to its passage, were clear signs of his discontent with Montague.

However, the prime minister said that he has confidence in Montague.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com