PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar Sunday night announced a major re-shuffle of her one year-old coalition People’s Partnership government, removing two ministers from the Cabinet but keeping faith with the embattled Austin Jack Warner.
However, she has decided to split Warner’s Works and Transport Ministry, appointing the chairman of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) Devant Maharaj as a senator to head the newly created Ministry of Transport.
There have been widespread calls for Warner’s dismissal following the bribery scandal that engulfed the International Football Federation (FIFA).
Warner resigned his position as vice president of the world football governing body as a result of the controversy that followed allegations that he and former FIFA presidential candidate, Mohamed Bin Hammam, had offered US$40,000 to national associations of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) at a meeting in Trinidad, in return for their votes in the FIFA presidential election on June 1.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar has said she would stand by her embattled senior minister who is also the chairman of the United National Congress (UNC), the leading member of the People’s Partnership coalition.
In a six-minute address to the nation, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar axed health minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis and replaced her with Dr. Fuad Khan, the former Deputy Speaker of the Parliament.
The new Deputy Speaker will be Jairam Seemungal, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
She has also appointed the social activist, Verna St. Rose Greaves, to head the new Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development. She will also be appointed a senator.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Suruj Rambachan will now have added responsibilities with the new Ministry of Communications added to his portfolio. He will be assisted by the soon to be appointed senator Nicole Dyer-Griffith, the wife of the Prime Minister’s security advisor, Gary Griffith.
Energy Minister Carolyn Seeperad Bachan will now head the Ministry of Public Administration, replacing Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam, who was removed from the Cabinet.
The new Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs is Kevin Ramnarine, the former Parliamentary Secretary in that ministry, while Colin Partap replaces Subhas Panday as the junior Minister in the Ministry of National Security.
The new ministers are expected to be sworn into office on Monday and Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that the realignment of the portfolios followed a critical review of the first year in office.
She said that her government came into office amidst high expectations and that “at the time of the formation of my Cabinet very few of my ministers had the benefit of serving in government or in Cabinet or had done so a long time ago”.
She said despite these short comings “the consensus by way of our achievements is that we have done well in our first year.
“WE are aware however of the need to do better. We know that you expect more given the extent to which you have denied the quality of life which an economy like Trinidad and Tobago should have provided during the years of plenty.”
She said that it is in response to fulfilling these expectations that “I have undertaken a review of portfolios and made certain changes”
The Prime Minister said that the fact that some ministers will be re-assigned to new responsibilities should not be regarded as “ a reflection of their competence, (but) it is rather a more effective alignment of competencies to positions where they will be more effective.
“I I value and applaud their efforts in the particular Ministries where they served and assure them of my continuing support as we work together for the benefit of our country,” she said, adding “at the same time, I expect that those who now hold these portfolios will be dedicated to excellence, high performance and delivery.
“As Prime Minister and as the “CEO” of the Cabinet, I am committed to the values of efficiency or value for money, effectiveness (getting the job done well and on time) integrity, responsiveness, service excellence, a caring attitude, fairness and equal treatment in the conduct of the business of government”
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