So Trevor MacMillan has been appointed Jamaica’s new National Security minister and his predecessor, Derrick Smith, will become the Mining and Telecommunications minister. Meanwhile, Clive Mullings, whose ministry has been split, will be Minister of Energy. What to make of this?
From my perspective, it seems to be a case of government expansion via appeasement. Appeasement in the sense that Bruce Golding does not want to be seen as a callous SOB who took away a minister’s portfolio while the individual is sick and laid-up in bed and that person seemingly knowing about it from media reports. Therefore Bruce creates a ministry to reward Derrick Smith for being a loyal JLP supporter and thus, hopefully, prevent a recurrence of the infighting that plagued the party back in the 90s.
With the seeming advent of one within the PNP, you can’t have one in the JLP at the same time as it would leave Jamaica just about leaderless and with everything else going on, that’s the last thing the average Jamaican wants.
At a time when the government is finding it difficult to adequately fund the various ministries and agencies, why split a ministry in two? It would appear to me that any responsible leader would be looking to consolidate ministries and agencies. Instead, I am left with the feeling that Jamaica’s last three PMs (including Bruce Golding) are, somehow, preoccupied with giving their friends and ardent party supporters jobs as a way to remain in their good graces. Some time ago I e-mailed someone a list of ministries that I feel the government could fully function with. Here is my list:
- Prime Minister (portfolio would include environment, water, mining and land use).
- Minister of Finance
- Foreign Affairs ministry
- Ministry of Commerce (incl. Foreign Trade and Industry)
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Housing
- Ministry of Education (incl. Youth and Culture in this ministry)
- Ministry of Transportation
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Ministry of Tourism
- Ministry of Justice (include Nat’l Security in this ministry)
You’ll see from my list that there are some glaring omissions. No water, telecommunications, technology, foreign trade, sports, defence, or the others in parentheses besides my ministerial list.
I deliberately left out defence as I am of the opinion that Jamaica does not need a standing army. It is my fervent belief that an army’s primary purpose should be to defend a country from external aggression and that it should never train its weapons on those it is sworn to protect. Therefore, what I would do is to fold the army into the Jamaica Constabulary Force and that would help to address the personnel shortfall with the Police. Would this be enough? No, but it’s a start.
Would there be cultural and other clashes? Yes. I am not so naïve as to think otherwise but time would help to resolve compatibility issues. I see the army as a luxury Jamaica simply cannot afford at this time. At a time when finances are tight the government needs to look for ways to cut costs while making sure it gets the most for every penny spent. The idea behind any good government should be to make it better and more efficient and not bigger to reward friends and supporters.
So, what do you think?