The People’s National Party (PNP) says it is not impressed with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, following yesterday’s announcement that he had decided to shift long-standing member of parliament JC Hutchison, from the Agriculture ministry to his office as a Minister without portfolio.
The move by the Prime Minister was triggered by Hutchison’s alleged involvement in the sale of government property involving his son and connection with a female employee of The Rural Agricultural Development Authority ( RADA).
However, the parliamentary opposition, the People’s National Party (PNP), says it is unacceptable for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to adopt a strategy of shifting around Ministers, who are guilty of policy breaches or wrongdoing to Jamaica House and to new portfolios and keeping them in the cabinet to oversee the same policies.
General Secretary, Julian Robinson, expressed the PNP’s view in a statement, saying “it was the second time within a month that the Prime Minister had merely given new portfolios after he has determined that the Ministers are guilty of breaching policy at the level of the government and cabinet. The Opposition said this was unacceptable and runs counter to Ministerial sanction in the face of wrongdoing, including corruption, nepotism, and cronyism.”
He continued to say, “First it was Minister Vaz, who was involved in the Holywell protected lands issue, and now Minister J.C. Hutchinson, involved in a clear act of nepotism concerning the Holland lands, who have been given new responsibilities, despite the Prime Minister acknowledging egregious breaches of the policy.”
Robinson added, “In fact, you can’t put the mongoose into the chicken house.”
Understanding this, the PNP says it does not regard Ministerial portfolio changes as sanctions, and as such, these changes should not be considered punishment for wrongdoing government ministers.
Robinson said the opposition wishes to register its most forceful repudiation of this method of disciplining or sanctioning of Ministers who rightfully ought to be removed from the cabinet.
Nonetheless, the Opposition once again is calling for Holness to remove Hutchinson from the cabinet for “clear breaches of established procedures”, which are set out in detail in the Prime Minister’s statement on Friday, July 17.