The news came in a televised address to the nation last night at 8.30, in which the Prime Minister said she expects her ministers to be “dedicated to excellence, high performance and delivery”.
In what may be seen as another strategic move to bolster the People’s Partnership bid for control of the Tobago House of Assembly, in upcoming elections, TOP’s Tobago West MP Dr Delmon Baker moves from being a Minister in the Ministry of Tourism to the more elevated Ministry of Finance, headed by Finance Minister Winston Dookeran (who has so far been helped by economist Government Senator Dr Patrick Watson and new Planning Minister, Senator Bhoe Tewarie).
Persad-Bissessar also confirmed changes to several substantive ministers as reported beforehand by Newsday.
Replaced by Senator Kevin Ramnarine as Energy Minister, San Fernando West MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan becomes Minister of Public Administration, displacing Senator Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam. Verna St Rose-Greaves heads a new Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
Former Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) head, Devant Maharaj, becomes the Minister of Transport, leaving Jack Warner with a halved portfolio as Works Minister.
Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan becomes new Health Minister, displacing incumbent Therese Baptiste-Cornelis.
La Horquetta/Talparo MP Jairam Seemungal replaces Khan as Senate Deputy House Speaker.
Persad-Bissessar also announced new changes at a lower level.
Former COP candidate Nicole Dyer-Griffith becomes a Senator, and a parliamentary secretary in the enhanced Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications, under Dr Suruj Rambachan. NJAC’s Senator Embau Moheni becomes a Minister in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism.
Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh moves, again, from the Ministry of Labour to being a Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, having once also served in the Ministry of Works and Transport. Princes Town MP Nela Khan moves to that Ministry as parliamentary secretary.
Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial becomes a Minister in the new Ministry of Gender Affairs.
TOP also has a new member in the Government, the party’s public relations officer Terrance Baynes who becomes a Government Senator.
Reports are that Subhas Panday merely keeps his Senate seat, having been removed as a Minister in the Ministry of National Security. Sources yesterday said the Prime Minister had offered him a diplomatic post of being the country’s consul general to Canada, but he declined citing health reasons. He is to be replaced as Government Chief Whip in the Senate by Public Utilities Minister Emannuel George.
Persad-Bissessar said a Cabinet reshuffle is not an unusual event after a Government’s first year in office, and said the changes were not an indictment on anyone but simply a better alignment of the competencies of her ministers.
She noted the Government came into office under high expectations, even as very few of her ministers had formerly had Government experience but had instead faced a steep learning curve. “We have done well, but need to do better,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said the reshuffle included a change in certain ministries themselves, some of which had held some responsibilities not in line with their core business. “I’ll correct these anomalies,” she explained.
Persad-Bissessar said she was moved by the spirit of cooperation and understanding of the affected ministers, and she thanked her fellow party leaders in the People’s Partnership. She said that while she had sought to build a healthy consensus in decision-making, the final choice was up to her.
Citing two factors in naming a Cabinet, she said it is hard to reverse decisions, and that a plural society presents many interests to be satisfied.
Saying that as Prime Minister she has never feared to admit when she has erred, she said, “Only God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Persad-Bissessar recalled the stresses the Government had met on taking office, namely a depleted Treasury, crime, the Clico bailout, corruption and a disenchanted Public Service. “The process of change has begun,” she said, “We will not shirk from our responsibilities.”
Saying preparations are underway for the National Budget (due in September), she mentioned the issues of crime and the economy. She said efforts are being made to grow the economy, stimulate businesses, attract new investments and control the cost of living, while containing crime.
“I pledge on behalf on my Government, to collectively redouble our efforts in the interest of our great nation, Trinidad and Tobago,” she vowed.
Dr Fuad Khan— Minister of Health
Devant Maharaj— Minister of Transport
Kevin Ramnarine— Minister of Energy
Verna St Rose Greaves— Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development
Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan— Minister of Public Administration
Dr Suruj Rambachan—Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communication
Delmon Baker— Minister in the Ministry of Finance
Collin Partap— Minister in the Ministry of National Security
Jairam Seemungal— Deputy Speaker
Nicole Dyer— Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communication
Ramona Ramdial— Minister in the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development
Rudy Indarsingh— Minister in the Ministry of Local Government
Embau Moheni — Minister in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism
Nela Khan—Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government