RESHUFFLE: Kamla Persad Bissessar
PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad Bissessar recently 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 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’s personal conduct has dragged the people and the name of Trinidad and Tobago into international odium,” Rowley told a news conference, adding that the Prime Minister had “arrogantly turned away from the advice” given to her to dismiss Warner.
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 much maligned 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, Persad Bissessar axed health minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis and replaced her with Dr. Fuad Khan, the former Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
The new Deputy Speaker will be Jairam Seemungal, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The Premier 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 fresh 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”.