A MEMBER of the Portia Simpson Miller-chaired Cabinet has dismissed as nonsense suggestions that there is division in the ranks of the executive.
"Absolutely not," Peter Bunting, the national security minister, replied when asked whether it was true that the Cabinet was fragmented.
"I have seen that speculation in the media and there is absolutely no fragmentation in Cabinet. We are one body, we operate on the principle of collective responsibility, and there is no division within Cabinet," Bunting added.
The minister, who is also general secretary of the governing People's National Party (PNP), was speaking during a press conference held yesterday at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters to discuss the Government's first-year achievements.
The press conference took place just as members of the Cabinet assembled for a three-day retreat at Jamaica House.
Take tough decisions
In a series of editorials, The Gleaner has urged the Simpson Miller administration to take the tough decisions required for an improvement in the country's economic situation. In one publication, the editorial said the administration has waffled on making tough decisions, especially as it relates to signing a pact with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"The chatter must end. It is time for action. If the administration is not ready to govern after the retreat, it should stay where it is," the editorial asserted.
But yesterday, Bunting stopped short of saying the Cabinet would not be bullied by anyone.
On Wednesday, Christopher Zacca, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, warned that the Government risked losing the support of his members.
"If we are to continue to support the Government's negotiating team, then it is full time that they share these details with us, so that we ourselves can provide our input and as a result increase the buy-in from ourselves and the rest of civil society," Zacca said.
Robert Pickersgill, minister of water, land, environment and climate change, said the Cabinet would use its retreat to consider "the pre- and post-action requirements relating to an agreement with the IMF".
Yesterday, the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) declared that the Government's honeymoon was over.
The group said the longer the Government took to secure an IMF deal, the more on track Jamaica would be towards economic doom.
"The Government's failure to ink an IMF agreement, the poor is getting poorer, investor confidence is shaken, businesses are on edge and we are becoming worse off as a country. The Government needs to accept that time is not on our side," JMA President Brian Pengelley said in a release.
Technical advisers, as well as the governor of the Bank of Jamaica and the director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, have been summoned to the Cabinet retreat and Bunting has declared that "you can expect us to take the decisions in the best interest of the country".
Pickersgill said "crucial policy options and approaches will be considered" at the retreat, even as he stressed that the Government understood "the anxieties and concerns of the various groups and the wider public, especially as it relates to the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund".