PM trims Cabinet

Macmillan, Mullings, Smith out, Vaz promoted
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Jamaica Observer

Just over 12 hours after announcing a public sector wage freeze and that he would take a 15 per cent cut in his salary, Prime Minister Bruce Golding cut three members from the executive with immediate effect, in apparent preparation for what is likely to be the country's toughest ever budget, scheduled to be tabled today in the Parliament.

Golding's announcement that Colonel Trevor MacMillan, Clive Mullings and Derrick Smith had resigned from the Cabinet took the country by surprise and triggered the vigorous discussion that commonly greets dramatic developments in a nation saturated with daytime radio talks shows.

Senator Dwight Nelson, who was one of two ministers without portfolio in the finance ministry, has replaced MacMillan as minister of national security.

Mullings, who held the energy portfolio, has been replaced by James Robertson, former minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

Robertson has also been assigned the mining portfolio which was held by Smith, who recently returned to the Cabinet after a break due to ill-health.

Golding also promoted Daryl Vaz, former minister without portfolio in the OPM, giving him responsibility for information and telecommunications while maintaining his oversight of special projects within the OPM.

Vaz last month scored a convincing victory in the court-ordered by-election for the West Portland parliamentary seat.

Yesterday, he downplayed a suggestion that his elevation was due to his election achievement, saying that the objective of the prime minister's action was simply to reduce the size of the Cabinet.

"What we really have now is a hard Cabinet down from 19 to 17," Vaz told the Observer.

"It's just a matter of contracting the size of the Cabinet based on the times that we're in," he said, adding that he had been judged by his performance and his responsibilities increased as a result.

The transfer of the information portfolio to Vaz leaves Olivia 'Babsy' Grange with responsibility for youth, sports and culture.

In a statement yesterday, Golding thanked MacMillan, Mullings and Smith "for their services to the Government and nation".

MacMillan, a former commissioner of police, was sworn in with much anticipation as national security minister in May last year after then minister Smith fell ill.

But the retired army colonel has been under constant pressure as crime continued spiralling at a frightening rate, impacting negatively on business activity and social life across the island.

Although murders trended down from 202 in May 2008 when MacMillan took the security helm, to 122 in November last year, his performance was always clouded by the alarmingly high rate.

The mining and energy ministry, which belonged to Mullings, also had an upheaval when it was spilt on Smith's return to public office, with him taking the mining responsibilities.

Efforts yesterday to contact both Mullings and Smith were unsuccessful.

The OPM announcement also confirmed an Observer report last week that Don Wehby, the second minister without portfolio in the finance ministry, would be leaving the Government at the end of his two-year tenure.

Wehby, Golding said, will demit office at the end of July and return to GraceKennedy, the company from which he was recruited in September 2007.

"His services will, however, continue to be available to the Government in an advisory capacity and for such assignments as are compatible with his private sector status," the OPM statement said.

Golding also announced that Education Minister Andrew Holness has been appointed leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives while the Ministry of Agriculture has had fisheries added to its designation.

The full Cabinet is now:

. Bruce Golding: Prime Minister; Defence, Planning and Development, Information and Technology;

. Kenneth Baugh: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs;

. Audley Shaw: Minister of Finance and the Public Service;

. Dorothy Lightbourne: Attorney General and Minister of Justice;

. Karl Samuda: Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce;

. Dwight Nelson: Minister of National Security;

. Andrew Holness: Minister of Education, Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives;

. Horace Chang: Minister of Water and Housing;

. Olivia 'Babsy' Grange: Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture;

. Rudyard Spencer: Minister of Health;

. Pearnel Charles: Minister of Labour and Social Security;

. Christopher Tufton: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries;

. Edmund Bartlett: Minister of Tourism;

. Michael Henry: Minister of Transport and Works;

. James Robertson: Minister of Mining and Energy;

. Don Wheby: Minister without Portfolio (Ministry of Finance and the Public Service); and

. Daryl Vaz: Minister without Portfolio (Office of the Prime Minister).


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