Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Portia's Superman!

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Veteran public servant Dr Carlton Davis - who has returned to serve as special adviser to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller - roared with laughter at the suggestion that he is the new "god" in People's National Party (PNP) administration, replacing the once powerful Dr Vin Lawrence.

The former cabinet secretary is also chairman of the CHASE Fund, head of the National Library Board and chairman of the government's liquefied natural gas (LNG) steering committee.

His scope of expertise takes him across the spectrum of nearly all ministries, and some say he is a superhuman public servant.

Davis is being paid $4.8m and $700,000 in allowances, which is a shade below what is paid to most cabinet members.

After he finally stopped laughing, Davis addressed the matter of his so-called "supremacy".

"Let me dispel any notion about being god. I am not the new god. In fact, I am just a humble, public servant," said Davis who is the brother of government minister Dr Omar Davies.

Many say Davis is wielding the real power in Government as the head of the Simpson Miller "Kitchen Cabinet".

Last week, he outlined his responsibilities during a Sunday Gleaner interview.

"As you know I advise the prime minister in my specialised area of bauxite and alumina, and then energy, which I have learnt a lot over the years," said Davis.

"And then, (Chris) Zacca's (former head of the LNG steering committee) job got thrown into my lap, because I certainly didn't expect him to leave, because there was general satisfaction with what he was doing," added Davis.

His writings, and presentations about the critical importance of energy to our economic future, may have been the deciding factor in him landing Zacca's portfolio."I advise the PM on governance issues. People are doing their work, so I don't get in the way. I share secretary with Burchell Whiteman. I have no executive role. I see myself as a resource. The 'God' part may have come because I have CHASE (Fund)," he said, again with a laugh.

Davis first chaired the CHASE Fund between 2002 and 2007 but was asked to return to the post after the PNP won the 2011 general election.

"What has been affected, to tell you the truth, is my writing. I have been doing my memoirs and I reached chapter eight, my university days in Canada, and was getting on to my university days here and this has come up, so it has slowed me down a bit," said Davis.

all hands needed on deck

He said Jamaica needs all hands on deck, and he had no second thoughts offering his services to the prime minister.

"I don't want to sound self-righteous, but there is so much to do. Because of my experience I felt that I could help Portia Simpson Miller to make the centre hold and monitor and evaluate what's going on," he stated.

He laughed again at the suggestion that he was the man wielding the real power in the administration.

"I wouldn't say power, but some influence, yes. When I was active. I was more what you call an 'influencer' than a wielder. My style has always been to let people do the work," Davis suggested.

In addition to his specialised knowledge in bauxite, alumina and energy, he said his many years on the governance side have caused him to take greater interest in the "macroeconomy more than the average public servant, so I can assist the prime minister".

In spite of that influence, he said he is not always right. "As in not always thought to be right even if I believe I am," he said with his trademark big laugh.

For Davis, like actor Clint Eastwood, a man must know his limitations.

"And if you even feel you have come to a point where something is fundamental, then it's time to step. I try to do my best," he offered.