The PNP’s Reshuffle : Not Novel but Workable
The Opposition Leader today unveiled an 18 member council of spokespersons with portfolio responsibilities, she claimed, necessary to confront the challenges faced by the country.
While the list of spokespersons is not as young and fresh as we would have hoped, the party leader has made some necessary and welcomed re assignments. I have long called for the Finance portfolio to be taken from Dr. Davies in light of his dismal performance in that capacity for some 13 years. Mrs. Simpson Miller has assigned the Finance portfolio to Dr. Peter Phillips. This has no doubt caused some murmurings. Why not Mark Golding? Or Peter Bunting?
Well, the Constitution of Jamaica mandates that the Minister of Finance must be a member of the House of Representatives. While there is no such requirement for an opposition spokesperson, it’s perhaps wise to name the spokesperson from that chamber. Therefore, while Mark Golding might be renowned for business and finance, he is a member of the Senate, and therefore would not be eligible to hold the post of Finance Minister.
As for Bunting, he has done a fair job shadowing National Security and so I support allowing him to retain that responsibility. Dr. Phillips has been a fine opposition member of the house and brings to his new portfolio his academic knowledge of international economies, holding his PhD in international political economy, I believe. I expect that Dr. Phillips will press Minister Shaw in the house and may well restore some confidence in the PNP’s “moral authority” to speak on the economy, despite being a member of successive cabinets which approved the decisions of Davies.
Another welcomed addition is that of Central Kingston MP Ronnie Thwaites, who has been given responsibility to shadow Education. The attorney has been one of the most outstanding members of parliament, in my opinion, and will be able to elevate the discussions on the education sector; something Basil Waite was unable to do. Thwaites is rational and fair minded and I anticipate that he’ll be able to partner with Minister Holness, if necessary, to see to the implementation of proper policies.
I’m perturbed that Lisa Hanna has been stripped of Information and given only Youth and Culture. The party leader should allow Hanna, a holder of a Master’s degree in communication, and a young mind, to shadow information. Mrs. Simpson Miller, no offence to her, is better at Sports, Labour and Social Security and should have stuck to her strengths. Giving Hanna Youth and Culture is almost making her redundant, as these two are barely portfolios that should be left on their own. Still, I suspect that Hanna will advise Simpson Miller on Information, which makes her the brains behind the chair.
There have been concerns relating to the fact that the Opposition Leader has renamed mostly the same faces to the council, but one has to remember her constrains. She has to choose from a pool of 28 MPs and 8 senators. With that in mind, I believe she did her best to re assign those who had lost the confidence of the Jamaican people to speak on certain issues and brought in new faces to take their places. New faces in the sense that some of them have never been linked to these portfolios. Example, Mark Golding will shadow Justice.
I am also concerned with the over all size of the council. Mrs. Simpson Miller should be crafting a Cabinet in waiting, and with the financial constrains faced by the country, the party president should be doing her best to show that she would appoint a lean and trim Cabinet, perhaps the minimum 11 members required by the Constitution.
So yes, the new shadow cabinet is not novel; we see a lot of the same faces but in different shoes and therefore I believe it is workable. With both parties entering election mode, we can only hope this reshuffle will position the PNP to once again form Her Majesty’s Government.