After a notable absence from the public, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley finally addressed the issues headlining national discourse over the past few weeks.
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PM to announce Cabinet changes Thursday: ‘Gypsy’ to lose portfolio?
Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters is expected to lose that portfolio in this week’s People’s Partnership Cabinet realignment, sources say. Peters has held the portfolio since the Government assumed office in 2010. The T&T Guardian was unable to reach him for comment yesterday.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to announce the changes during Thursday’s Cabinet meeting and it will be announced to the public during the subsequent post-Cabinet news conference. Persad-Bissessar announced plans for a reconfiguration of the Cabinet during the PP’s second anniversary rally last month.
Sources said one of the factors guiding the reassignment of ministerial portfolios is a recent survey which shows that crime remains the most serious problem affecting the people of T&T and if the PP fails to effectively deal with it, it could lose the next general election constitutionally due in 2015. Persad-Bissessar has admitted that she is not happy with the overall results of the fight against crime.
As a result, Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner is being considered as the best option to take the National Security portfolio, sources said. Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, who is reportedly being posted to India as High Commissioner, said it is the Prime Minister’s sole prerogative to appoint and remove ministers as she sees fit. He said in a brief interview yesterday that he would serve in any position offered to him by Persad-Bissessar.
“It was my pleasure to serve in the administration of Kamla Persad-Bissessar and I hope to continue to do so with her support,” he said. Maharaj said he had not been approached by Persad-Bissessar “to indicate to me that my position is being considered in exchange for a position as High Commissioner for anywhere.”
Reports are that Senator Nicole Dyer-Griffith will head a new Ministry of Information, while Suruj Rambachan will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio. The Prime Minister is having some difficulty convincing one minister of the need to accept a new portfolio, sources said. She is expected to continue her consultations with ministers today.
Commenting on the expected Cabinet changes, former prime minister Basdeo Panday said he was not confident it would have any significant impact on advancing the country. Panday said the Government had not shown any capability of dealing with two important issues affecting citizens—crime and economic development.
“What is required is a plan to deal with crime and the economy and the population must buy into those plans,” he said. “Reshuffling of the Cabinet with the same is really an attempt at distraction.”