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Vasant, Indarsingh to help Howai in Finance
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath and Minister Rudy Indarsingh, who have now been appointed ministers of finance, will assist Finance Minister Larry Howai to plan the 2012-2013 budget. Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed said yesterday that Bharath and Indarsingh were ministers of state in the Finance Ministry. The development was revealed after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar left T&T yesterday for the 33rd Caricom Summit.
A chartered accountant, Bharath is being made a Minister of State in Finance in addition to his portfolio as Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment. He received that portfolio in the June 22 Cabinet reconfiguration. Bharath, formerly Food Production Minister, had at one time been tipped for the post of Finance Minister.
On the issue of the Trade Minister also serving in Finance, a Finance Ministry official said late former PNM Trade Minister Kenneth Valley also had served as minister in Finance with former prime minister and finance minister Patrick Manning in the PNM administration of 2002-2007. They said the investment aspect of Bharath’s trade portfolio also straddled finance.
Indarsingh is being shifted from his current position as Minister of State in Local Government to serve in a similar capacity alongside Howai. This will be the fourth shift—and another promotion—for Indarsingh since he entered Government in 2010.
Indarsingh, a former trade unionist, who started off as a Minister of State in the Works and Infrastructure Ministry (alongside Jack Warner), was shifted to a minister in labour (alongside Errol McLeod) soon after and then a minister in Local Government (with Chandresh Sharma) in 2011.
In the June 22 reshuffle Indarsingh remained Minister in Local Government, this time under Suruj Rambachan, who was posted to that ministry. Rambachan will now command the Local Government Ministry solo. With Bharath and Indarsingh, preparation of the 2012-2013 budget will have input from three sectors: Howai’s academic financial and economic acumen, Bharath’s financial expertise and Indarsingh’s labour background.
Yesterday, Bharath said of the added responsibility, “I look forward to working closely with Minister Howai.” He added: “There are many areas where we will need to work together to to kickstart the economy, to undertake Customs reform, deal with the issue of VAT returns and other issues, so there will be several synergies between the ministries.” Indarsingh said he was yet to meet with Howai.
He added: “I see this appointment as a continuation of serving the Prime Minister, Government and people of T&T. “With the backgrounds of my colleagues in finance, there is a three-pronged experience in banking, finance and marketing and labour.” Indarsingh said he expected his labour background to assist the Finance Ministry’s planning, with input from the sector and ensure issues of interest to workers were represented where national development was concerned.
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