Written By: Peter Edwards
Date Published: March 9, 2016′
Site Published: www.peteretedwards.com/wordpress/?p=119
Phew! Finally! The fantasy cabinet picking and who’s-your-dream minister exercise has come to an end. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has named his cabinet and it contains many old familiar faces and thankfully some new ones. As expected, many of the usual portfolios have been returned with a few tweaks and additions here and there.
See full Cabinet list here: [http://opm.gov.jm/prime-minister-holness-promises-frugal-and-efficient-government/]
Conspicuously absent in the list of Ministerial Portfolios is any mention of Environment, Sustainable Development or Climate Change. This is somewhat concerning given that page 31 of the JLP’s manifesto was dedicated to Environment and Climate Change.
JLP Manifesto here: [http://www.jamaicalabourparty.com/content/jlp-manifesto-2016]
The manifesto states “ Stewardship of the environment is a core value of the JLP”. Apparently this value is so core it is buried deep and is invisible to discerning eyes. However, all may not be lost! In response to concerns raised by various groups, the Prime Minister has released a statement advising the nation that the environment portfolio will be situated within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
The news release goes on to reassure concerned persons that the Prime Minister is indeed interested in the environment and considers good and responsible environmental management and planning critical to facilitating economic growth and sustainable development. The rationale provided by the PM is that by keeping the environmental management and climate change portfolios in his office it will benefit from effective planning and coordination of government activities. The news release also highlights that this placement in the OPM ensure synergies in the land, water and housing portfolios, which are also situated in that office.
Sound good, don’t it? The skeptics among us remain cautiously optimistic. The worry is, that while all of that sounds good on paper, the reality might very well be that the Environment will be lost beneath other “more important” portfolios. The focus of the Prime Minister’s office is Economic Growth and Job Creation. Rightly so, given that Jamaica has been sluggish in these two areas for decades, across multiple political administrations. However, many are cautious because in the not too distant past, we heard from the previous administration that – in the context of certain development projects – “the Jamaican economy outweighs all other considerations”. One can therefore understand the skepticism from environmental advocacy groups and other technical and professional entities that work within this sector (Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals).