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FOR THE THIRD TIME
The Prime Minister still has great reserves of goodwill from the people and so she is able to make bold moves which carry high risk. That in the second year of her command, in the midst of brewing controversies and the withdrawal of one of her troops from the coalition, she maintained her course to re-shape, for the second time, her Cabinet, is nothing short of unprecedented political savvy. For who amongst us would have taken the chance to subject the population to yet another convulsion when the complaint is that the Government has not settled into the business of the State. And which leader would be daring enough to execute such a move with the danger of causing further political fallout. It must be hats off to the Prime Minister who shows no sign of anxiety as she awaits the results of her latest political manoeuvre. Most if not all objective-minded individuals would readily agree that Minister Vasant Bharath has distinguished himself as the best performing minister in the agricultural sector. Although many believed that Minister Bharath was assigned to his initial portfolio as some kind of punishment, it was apparent that, whether there was any merit in that belief, it did not hinder the energy, vision and drive of the minister to address the deficiencies in this very important sector.
With his use of best business practices and widespread engagement of all stakeholders including experts in the field, Minister Bha-rath proved to all his detractors that his passion was genuine and his commitment to the welfare of farmers and the protection of agricultural lands was sincere. Such an indelible mark has been left by this minister that his move to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment has left a significant void in agriculture. It will be no easy task for Devant to fill the shoes of his predecessor. On the positive side, Minister Bharath has the opportunity to kick-start the economy using his strategic thinking and vast experience in finance and commerce. Minister Larry Howai, who has been appointed to lead the Ministry of Finance and the Economy, would undoubtedly be working in close connection with Minister Bharath and their combined talent and synergy should redound to the benefit of the country. It was not surprising that Minister Fuad Khan retained his portfolio, bearing in mind the tremendous work he is doing in his ministry. To have moved him would have resulted in a fatal blow to the health sector. The inadequacies in the healthcare system need to be cured and Fuad possesses the requisite skills and knowledge of the sector to address the shortcomings. He commands the respect of his peers and his training in management is a definite asset. Also remaining firmly grounded was the Minister of Public Administration, who inherited a ministry that suffers from underrated importance. The transformation of this ministry begins with a nationwide education campaign about its work and the critical role it plays in the proper management, training, development and deployment of our most important resource—the human resource.
Minister Seepersad-Bachan is a highly qualified academic who can implement policies and procedures to ensure that her ministry attains the attention of those who too easily overlook its value. The decision to split the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education is a backward step, especially in light of global developments in the integration of techno- logy at all levels of education. Minister Fazal Karim appeared to have a good grasp of the extent of his portfolio so the decision to sever the ministry must have been based purely on the mathematics of having sufficient ministries to allocate to “out of office” ministers. The dissection of this ministry will live to haunt us as it flies in the face of logic, basic science and common sense. And two words about the dismissal of Verna St Rose from the Parliament—“not fair.” Verna is a ground supporter of the people and an unbridled champion for human rights. She has always led the charge for the dispossessed and the downtrodden and although I do not share her view on the abolition of the death penalty, she has never kept her position on the matter a secret. To summarily dismiss her without the courtesy of due notice or consideration for the support she gave to the Prime Minister in the latter’s journey to the top, proves that we have yet to get the right politics. And whereas others may have jumped at the opportunity to serve abroad, it is an insult to offer a champion of the local people a foreign posting. But such is the game of politics—T&T style. It is too early in the day to assess the wisdom of the shuffle but the porthole for excuses for non-performance has closed and the Prime Minister knows it.
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