Fayval takes charge

PM appoints new energy minister; 2 junior ministers, 3 permanent secretaries reassigned

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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FAYVAL Shirley Williams – the Member of Parliament for St Andrew Eastern — will today take over the turbulent Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology.

The appointment of Williams, who was up to yesterday minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, was announced in a release by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who also announced changes to the administrative status of two junior ministers — Alando Terrelonge and Floyd Green — as well as three prominent permanent secretaries — Audrey Sewell, Sancia Templer Bennett and Carol Palmer.

Green will be assigned to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries from the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, while Terrelonge has been shifted from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Permanent Secretary Palmer has been transferred from the Ministry of Justice to work with Minister Williams in the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology; Templer Bennett goes to the Ministry of Justice from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM); while Sewell will take over at the OPM.

Williams — a past student of Ferncourt High School in St Ann, and a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania in the United States — is a chartered financial analyst with a Masters degree in business administration, and with work experience with American financial services corporation Morgan Stanley, and in real estate investment management.

After being appointed a state minister at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service following the Jamaica Labour Party's victory in the February 2016 general elections she was promoted to a Cabinet post as minister without portfolio in the same ministry in March 2018.

Williams won on her first attempt at representational politics when she defeated the People's National Party's Andre Hylton in the 2016 general election.

She will be taking over as boss at the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology in the midst of a continuing scandal over spending at the ministry's major asset, the Petrojam oil refinery.

Holness tabled a bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday seeking support for a compulsory acquisition of Venezuela's 49 per cent share in the refinery, in case his Administration fails to settle an agreement with Venezuela over the proposed repurchase this year.

She will also have to confront several leftovers from the scandal-hit Petrojam, which has not only been severely tainted, during its administrations over the last five-year period, but several resignations from other agencies of the ministry which followed the removal of former minister Dr Andrew Wheatley.

Holness, who had chosen to take on oversight of the ministry after Wheatley's resignation in 2018, has been caught up in the intriguing episodes of the dilemma which followed the resignation, and which have affected his ability to handle other issues arising from the 60-odd agencies falling under his Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation at Jamaica House.

In the release yesterday, Holness said that while there is still much more work to be done to restore the public trust and confidence in Petrojam, and the energy portfolio generally, he believes that the ministry has come a far way since his intervention.

“I believe we have come a far way. I am therefore confident that with the changes set in motion, I can now refocus my attention and effort on other pressing areas of the Government, particularly crime, ease of doing business, and completing the extensive infrastructure programme undertaken,” he said in the release.

He added that, since taking over the science, energy and technology portfolios in July 2018, significant policy, governance and administrative advances have been made.

He said that all the agencies falling under the portfolios have to be reconstituted, where necessary, and appropriately commissioned. The board of NESOL has been instructed to start the process of closing down the entity as a part of the agreed Public Sector Reform programme.

He also noted the tabling of legislation to acquire the 49 per cent share of Venezuela's stake in Petrojam, which he considered a “major step” to secure the viability and value of Petrojam, and his appointment of a review commission to explore and advise the Government on the future options for the refinery.


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