#COVID19Chronicles-76: June 29, 2020: The price of poor judgement—some clarity on political cost of Holywell lease deal

This is really for my own personal peace of mind, but worth sharing. When I was writing yesterday about political missteps the government/Cabinet may be making, I was unaware of a piece of confirming evidence about part of the recent Cabinet reshuffling, namely the reason for removing the land and environment portfolio from Daryl Vaz. However, the PM made clear in a radio interview (perhaps lost in the PR puff of him doing pushups).

In a discussion last Friday on Hotline with Emily Shields, Mr. Holness said (my emphases): “That [his attempt to lease lands in the Holywell area of the Blue Mountains] would have been one consideration. There were other considerations. Remember there was no minister, minister without portfolio or even a junior minister who would have had direct oversight over the water and housing portfolio for a little while after Pearnel Charles Jr took up representational politics. So that was a consideration, Holywell situation was a consideration, but the most important thing in my mind is the economic recovery.” The Prime Minister said Mr. Vaz recognises the need for the shift and has agreed that the issue concerning the Holywell lands was “poor judgement”. According to Mr. Holness,”he understands and acknowledged that maybe it is best that he’s refocused and he is very happy to go to water.”

In the strange landscape of Jamaican politics, this is not a trivial acknowledgement; it’s more in keeping with fine words about accountability and transparency. It’s better, in my mind, than the PM being mum and leaving things open to speculation. It can give the PM the right to say things like ‘I have dealt with…’. That said, it still leaves open, in a general ‘good governance’ sense, the question ‘What are the limits for ‘poor judgement’ and what line has to be crossed for that to cost a minister his position?’.

As I’ve written often, with regard to (political) integrity, the personal responsibility that’s needed shouldn’t be set with a bar that’s so high that no one sees they’ve crossed it.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)