Mon | Mar 27, 2023

Birthday gift as Floyd Green back in Cabinet

Published:Tuesday | January 11, 2022 | 12:09 AMJovan Johnson/Senior Staff Reporter
After packing his bags and quitting the Cabinet, Floyd Green is back from the road to redemption.
After packing his bags and quitting the Cabinet, Floyd Green is back from the road to redemption.

On his 40th birthday and just 117 days after he was forced to resign in shame, Floyd Green, considered one of the brightest sparks in the Holness administration, was reappointed to the Cabinet.

The two-term St Elizabeth South Western member of parliament earned the wrath of a COVID-weary public last September after a video surfaced showing the then agriculture and fisheries minister wine-toasting and cheering to a no-movement day comment at a birthday party day at a New Kingston hotel.

It raised instant credibility questions for the Government’s efforts to get Jamaicans to adhere to COVID-19 protocols or face harsh penalties for disobedience. Lawmakers are among exempt categories of workers.

Green’s departure from the Cabinet, after his mea culpa, was swift.

The video emerged online on the evening of September 14 and by midday, the rising star dimmed, but that fall has proven to be brief. He issued a statement announcing his resignation on the basis that he was “wrong” and that “no matter how briefly, and regardless of the circumstances, I should never have participated”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness didn’t hide his regret, noting that Green had shown “great potential” as a minister.

On Monday evening, Holness announced that Green would join him as a minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, which now includes the information portfolio.

Helene Davis Whyte, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, said Green seemed to have been going a “good job” but he should have been kept from ministerial responsibility a while longer “to be able to reflect on the role of ministers and what it entails”.

“It should be seen by him as some kind of, almost, punishment so that he is able to come back. For the shortness of time, I don’t think he will actually see it as very serious situation, which I think is tragic,” she said.

The Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP), an anti-corruption lobby, said that “ideally” the prime minister and the public should have had the findings of the police investigation into the matter before a Cabinet reappointment.

But JAMP’s executive director, Jeanette Calder, said advocates have to be “proportional” in the quest for accountability.

Green “demonstrated a deeply concerning lack of good judgement in the abuse of his parliamentary privileges,” she said.

“... However, the loss of his portfolio, the regrettable blot on his record, coupled with his own unhesitating contrition and acknowledgement of error and his previous track record of service, make a reasonable case for his return.”

It’s not clear whether Gabrielle Hylton, for whom the September 14 party was held, will land another taxpayer-funded job, having been Green’s adviser at the agriculture ministry. She, along with Councillor Andrew Bellamy, another celebrant, resigned from public-sector boards.