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BY INGRID BROWN Observer senior reporter browni@jamaicaobserver.com
Saturday, January 07, 2012


TWENTY Cabinet ministers and eight state ministers are to serve in the new People's National Party Government led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

The size of the new Cabinet — which is two larger than that appointed by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding in September 2007 — and the eight-member junior team was immediately defended by Simpson Miller, who said it was part of a succession plan for some of the young politicians to understudy their more senior colleagues.

"We have began to look at succession planning and so we have placed some of the elected young persons to understudy senior more experienced colleagues," said Simpson Miller. "This is a continuous process and the country should expect, over time, for other young members to receive similar exposure," she added.

The Cabinet, majority of whom are old faces from the previous PNP administration, but which includes nine first-time members to the executive, were sworn in at a ceremony at King's House in St. Andrew yesterday before hundreds of family members, friends and well-wishers in a packed ballroom at King's House, the official residence of the governor general. The eight state ministers were also sworn in at the same ceremony.

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New entrants to the Cabinet are:

* Peter Bunting - National Security;

* Rev Ronald Thwaites - Education;

* Lisa Hanna - Youth and Culture;

* Dr Fenton Ferguson - Health;

* Noel Arscott - Local Government and Community Development;

* Dr Morais Guy - Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing;

* Natalie Neita Headley - Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for sports;

* Senator Sandrea Falconer - Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for information; and

* Senator Mark Golding - Justice.

A J Nicholson, the third minister appointed from the Senate, is the new foreign affairs and foreign trade minister.

The team is completed by:

* Portia Simpson Miller - Defence, Development, Information and Sports.

* Dr Peter Phillips - Finance, Planning and the Public Service;

* Robert Pickersgill - Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change;

* Anthony Hylton - Industry, Investment and Commerce;

* Derrick Kellier - Labour and Social Security;

* Dr Omar Davies - Transport, Works and Housing;

* Dr Wykeham McNeill - Tourism and Entertainment;

* Phillip Paulwell - Mining, Energy and ICT;

* Roger Clarke - Agriculture & Fisheries; and

* Horace Dalley - Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Public

Service, with responsibility for public service.

The state ministers are:

* Arnaldo Brown - Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade;

* Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams - Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce;

* Ian Hayles - Agriculture & Fisheries;

* Colin Fagan - Local Government and Community Development;

* Richard Azan - Transport, Works & Housing;

* Damion Crawford - Tourism & Entertainment;

* Julian Robinson - Mining, Energy & ICT; and

* Luther Buchanan - Office of the Prime Minister.

Simpson Miller, who had criticised Golding's Cabinet size in 2007, said there should be no comparison.

"If you check my size and the number of people that won the elections for the PNP, it is quite different from that of Mr Golding," she said.

Simpson Miller, who insisted that the size of the Cabinet was a deliberate move to accommodate the succession planning was, however, unable to say if Jamaicans can expect to see changes to the Cabinet within the next five years, noting that this will all be determined by performance. "I have not appointed any one based on either looks or love," she said.

She said some ministers wanted to have a state minister or parliamentary secretary appointed to their ministry, but said this will not be facilitated.

"There are some ministries that are very difficult and will have nobody, but I have said to the ministers you will have to manage because I am not putting one more person in the executive because things are hard and tough," said Simpson Miller.

In the meantime, she said there was also a deliberate move to group a number of subjects to create super ministries in order to keep the size of the executive in check.

She told the new ministers that her administration will be guided by participation, accountability and responsibility, and urged them to be respectful to the people and to work tirelessly to promote the rights, welfare and well-being of the Jamaican people.

"I want to encourage all of you appointed here today to remember the reason why we are here, it is about the people and Jamaica and not about ourselves," she said.

Her administration, she warned, will take a zero- tolerance approach to corruption and will move quickly to strengthen the mechanisms to fight corruption and find new and innovative ways to stem the waste of public resources.

All public servants, political and technical, she said, will be held accountable for the judicious management of the people's resources.

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