The first two members of the executive retained were Finance Minister Audley Shaw and Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson. Both were appointed and sworn in at King’s House in St Andrew as one of the first orders of business for the new prime minister who took up duties at Jamaica House yesterday.
But Holness, obviously mindful that his delay in naming the full team will further fuel speculation about whether there will be any changes, sought to assure the country that the guessing game will be over by the end of this week.
“The rest of the Cabinet will be announced shortly, indeed before the week is out, and appointed before the week is out,” Holness told the handful of persons who attended the brief ceremony.
Holness, however, remained mum on the composition of this Cabinet, noting instead that yesterday’s appointment was for practical and strategic reasons.
He said this was to ensure that there were no gaps at all in the administration of government in the areas of security and finance.
“We certainly cannot afford any gaps,” he said.
Having spoken for an hour at Sunday’s inauguration ceremony, it was obvious that the time for talking was over. It was time for business.
“Today is not the day for long speech; I did that yesterday, so let’s get back to work,” Holness said in concluding the ceremony.
Despite being pressed by journalists, the prime minister appeared to be in a hurry to get back to his desk as he hurriedly left without responding to the questions.
Shaw, who spoke to journalists shortly after being sworn in, said nothing should be read into the prime minister’s decision to have only two ministers sworn in initially.
“I think the prime minister has been clear and quite explicit on the question of the priority of finance and national security, and once he has no agenda other than that… certainly I have important matters to deal with it,” Shaw said.
He explained further that he is scheduled to meet today with a senior vice-president in charge of countries from the Inter-American Development Bank, who is already in the island.
“So I think the PM has made an appropriate decision,” he said.
As to whether Jamaicans should expect a change in the Cabinet, Shaw said he would not speculate or seek to read the prime minister’s mind.
“Let’s wait and see,” he said.
Senator Nelson said now that he is sworn in, the police can get back to work as quickly as possible under the authority of the minister of national security as there has been an increase in shootings and robberies in recent days.
The only other members from the former Cabinet who were on hand to witness the occasion was Daryl Vaz, who held the information portfolio, and Senator Arthur Williams, who served as minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the public service.
Meanwhile, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said he would not presume to read the prime minister’s mind as to the reasons for choosing to have only two ministers sworn in yesterday.
“I hope it’s not… a pecking order, I suppose,” he quipped.
The governor general, however, used the occasion to urge the ministers to work with the new prime minister in charting a positive path that will imprint on the books of history.
The nation, he said, yearns for a transformational type of government; one that will foster growth and development. “As we move in this new era, I encourage you to remain steadfast as we collectively meet the needs of the people,” Sir Patrick said.
Earlier — at 7:50 am — the 39-year-old prime minister arrived at Jamaica House armed with his trusted iPad and told journalists awaiting his arrival that what he needed to work with was stored in the high-tech gadget.
Pointing to the cleared desk left by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding — who formally handed in his resignation on Sunday — Holness joked that he was not accustomed to being around an empty desk.
He opened his first day on the job with an 8:00 am meeting with his permanent secretary and Cabinet secretary, after which he attended a series of other meetings.