Sat | Apr 20, 2019

Karl Samuda assigned to Education Ministry after Ruel Reid's resignation

Published:Wednesday | March 20, 2019 | 6:04 PM
Karl Samuda ... Assigned responsibility for the Education Ministry

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Karl Samuda has been assigned responsibility for the Education Ministry following the resignation of Ruel Reid.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement in the House of Representatives a short while ago.

Holness this morning asked Reid to resign amid allegations of corruption involving his ministry.

Reid has also resigned as Senator.

Holness said by Sunday when he returns from his meeting with US president Donald Trump, he should be able to name new senator.

The police are investigating the corruption allegations against Reid and the Office of the Prime Minister said it too will also undertake its own review of the ministry which should be completed in a month or two.

What Holness said in a nutshell:

1. Karl Samuda assigned to the Education Ministry

2. The Office of the Prime Minister will undertake a full review of the Ministry of Education over the next month or two

3. A senator should be appointed by Sunday when he returns from an overseas assignment

4. The changes in the Education Ministry should not impact the current sittings of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP)

5. The constitutionality of the Cabinet composition will depend on how soon he makes another appointment.

 

Holness' full statement to Parliament:

It is important that the country is assured that the Government is serious about dealing with issues having to do with the good governance of their affairs, allegations of corruptions, malfeasance, maladministration and that we set a standard of accountability that cannot be questioned.

Issues have been raised in the public domain which have caused me to have a conversation with the minister. After that conversation, it appeared to me that given the sensitivity of the Ministry of Education that the best thing to do would be for the minister to tender his letter of resignation so that the processes would have been established. Let us be clear that Jamaica is a liberal democracy, another feature of that democracy is the growing establishment of independent authorities to deal with matters such as corruption and the preservation of the integrity of the state. Those agencies, commissions and organisations are in action, they are doing what is necessary and investigating. Our job as the administration is to ensure there is no impediment and there is no obstruction and that there is transparency. I believe that the action taken today by myself and the minister would strengthen the system of our democracy that there is transparency. We have learnt, there is no question Jamaica is evolving and the Government is evolving and this is the standard.

Part of the role of the Office of the Prime Minister is to make sure that every ministry is being run properly. How I view my job is from the point of view of ensuring that the principles of good governance are institutionalised in every ministry. Once I see that there is a problem that signalises a governance issue, a break down in supervision, an oversight by the minister, then I have to intervene and ensure that those problems are not systemic or deep rooted and if they are to correct them. That is what I did with  Petrojam and the Ministry of Energy. My first step is to ask the Permanent Secretary to give me a full report of the functioning of the ministry. That instruction has already been given. I have assigned, earlier today, Minister Samuda to go over to the Ministry of Education and to assist. My office will undertake a review of the Ministry of Education, we don’t expect to be doing that review for more than a month or two. It is a large ministry and we will be doing a full review of the ministry. 

In the interim, another point raised by the Opposition Leader is a constitutional point as to whether the Cabinet is now properly constituted. I suspect the judgement of if my actions are constitutional will depend on the speed at which I act. The law would have to contemplate intervening events that would determine how fast I could make an appointment such as appointing someone to the Senate, identifying a minister so there would be some reasonable time. Whatever is considered reasonable will be determined by the court but it’s not something that immediately makes the cabinet unconstitutional.

I wish to assure the public that the Ministry of Education has a strong bureaucracy, not in the negative sense but it has a very strong public administration culture and therefore the operations will continue unimpeded and I am expecting that the new exams PEP will go off without any difficulty. I will receive a report tomorrow specifically on that as to the preparations. I will go off the island tomorrow and return on Sunday and by then I should be able to make an appointment to the Senate and fill the constitutionally required position in the Cabinet. 

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