PM on Cabinet reshuffle: Lift-off time for PP Government
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday promoted Gary Griffith, her former national security adviser, to the post of National Security Minister, “fired” two ministers and reshuffled and split the portfolios of several United National Congress (UNC) frontliners in her third Cabinet reshuffle. Griffith, who replaced Emmanuel George, former state board chairman Gerald Hadeed and one-time senator Raziah Ahmed will be brought into the Parliament as People’s Partnership (PP) senators.
Persad-Bissessar, in announcing the three additions and other changes before colleagues at her St Clair, Port-of-Spain, office yesterday, said it was a move towards a reinvigorated Government. “This ushers in a new era of my Government,” the PM said, adding she wanted to fast-track delivery and development.
“I can assure you that no one will escape scrutiny of his or her performance and satisfaction of the public interest. This is lift-off time—launch of the most aggressive development and progressive period of governance in T&T’s history.” The PM also said of the changes: “Every single member listed here has been advised of the accelerated progress expected in each area for which they are responsible.
“Performance reviews will be conducted on a regular basis and if necessary further changes will be made. Citizens will also have an opportunity to make opinions known through the National Conversation platform.” The Prime Minister removed Jamal Mohammed from the Communications Ministry after he served a year and Christlyn Moore from the Justice Ministry. Moore was brought in last September to replace Herbert Volney, who was fired over the Section 34 issue.
Persad Bissessar, however, said: “I do believe they did very well but I want improved delivery…we’ll have further discussions with them (on future plans for Mohammed and Moore).” Mohammed was replaced by former Airports Authority chairman Hadeed and Moore by George. Griffith was a captain in the army and was also a high profiler with the previous UNC administrations. He subsequently joined the COP, returned to the UNC in 2010, only to resign again in June.
The Prime Minister said Griffith was familiar with the Government’s plans for national security and had been an adviser to the National Security Council. She said she wanted someone with a military background to drive national security projects. Saying George had been an interim security minister, the PM said he had been excellent in that area and had the skills for his new portfolio as Justice Minister.
Persad-Bissessar appointed Ahmed to the post of Minister of State in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development. Ahmed, an insurance executive, had served in the Senate during 2000 to 2007. Ahmed will function alongside Clifton De Coteau, who was switched from Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration to head Gender, Youth and Child Development.
Replacing De Coteau to head the Diversity Ministry is COP MP Rodger Samuel, who has been promoted from his position as Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister. Samuel last month had threatened to resign, then embarked on a fast for T&T. The COP had lobbied for him to be given bigger responsibilities, party officials said yesterday. The PM also split the ministries of UNC frontliners Suruj Rambachan and Roodal Moonilal and shifted Chandresh Sharma.
Rambachan lost Local Government to Marlene Coudray, who formerly held Gender, Youth and Child Development. Rambachan retained the Works Ministry. Moonilal’s mega-Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs was divided with former Minister of State Jairam Seemungal. Moonilal retained Housing and Urban Development, while Seemungal, formerly a junior minister in Food Production, was promoted to Minister of Land and Marine Resources.
Sharma was shifted from Transport to Tourism, while Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz was made Transport Minister. The other portfolios remained untouched. Persad-Bissessar yesterday insisted there was no “cabal” in the Government and no one advised her on who to hire or fire.