Wed | Jan 16, 2019

PAJ calls on Gov’t to immediately resume weekly post-Cabinet briefings

Published:Friday | May 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jackson Miller

The Dionne Jackson Miller-led Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has called on the Government to immediately resume, as a matter of urgency, the traditional post-Cabinet press briefings.

In a press statement issued yesterday, the PAJ said that there have been no briefings since 2018, the last being November 2017, "and they were held very irregularly throughout 2017".

"The Government seems to have effectively abandoned the post-Cabinet press briefings. This is unacceptable," the PAJ said.

"For years," it added, "the weekly meetings have been the forum in which reporters have been able to question government ministers on matters arising from the weekly Cabinet meetings, as well as other issues of national interest as they arise. They have been held regularly by previous administrations, both JLP and PNP, and we call on the Andrew Holness administration to continue this valuable democratic tradition."

The PAJ said that its call was not to be confused with other press briefings as there had been several in the past few months but usually relating to specific issues such as the imposition of a state of public emergency or the establishment of zones of special operations.


Reporters' complaints


The PAJ said that it acknowledged the quarterly press briefings that the prime minister had held, but its specific reference was to the weekly press conferences, "which the media community regards as an important forum in which to question and engage the Government on a variety of matters".

In addition, the PAJ made note of complaints from reporters about the "ability of ministers who have attended the briefings to actually answer questions from the press". The association pointed out that over the years, the ministers presiding at these briefings had been able to handle wide-ranging questions from the media on a variety of important subjects.

The PAJ, "therefore, calls on the Government to ensure not only that the weekly meetings resume, but that the ministers presiding can actually answer questions asked by the press".