Rowley reshuffles Cabinet

CABINET RESHUFFLE Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley undertook his first major Cabinet reshuffle on November 1. People’s National Movement (PNM) deputy political leader Rohan Sinanan - the man credited by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley with bringing home the 2015 general election for the party - was announced as the new Minister of Works and Transport

Kazim Hosein, who a few weeks ago was spearheading the San Fernando City Corporation’s disaster relief campaign for Hurricane- ravaged Haiti, in his capacity as San Fernando Mayor, is Minister of Rural Development and Local Government

Stuart Young, was made a full Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Previously, he was a Minister of State in the OPM in addition to being a Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs

Young later assumed chairmanship of the Cabinet’s Finance and General Purposes (FGP), allowing Finance Minister Colm Imbert greater room to handle several substantial matters on his plate. Rowley later said there is no set rule for the finance minister to chair the FGP

PNM MPs Nicole Olivierre (La Brea) and Ancil Antoine (D’Abadie/O’Meara) were shown Cabinet’s exit door as they were stripped of their posts of Energy and Public Utilities Ministers, respectively. PNM chairman and former Urban Development and Local Government Minister Franklin Khan was shifted to the Energy Ministry, while former Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is the Public Utilities Minister

NOT TRUE CARMONA Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on September 29 denied ever giving his approval for a September 5 meeting called by President Anthony Carmona and attended by National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and the heads of different arms of the protective services. Rowley declared there was no leak of confidential documents from the Office of the Prime Minister to the Office of the President, pertaining to this meeting

In providing a detailed response to claims made by President Anthony Carmona during an address to reporters at the Office of the President in St Ann’s, Rowley made it clear during a post-Cabinet news conference that at no time did he exercise powers outside of his constitutional remit. He was also adamant he will maintain the working relationship which he and Carmona must have under the Constitution. In a recap, Rowley said he was in Tobago on September 5 when he received a phone call from Dillon indicating he was requested by the President to attend a meeting that day. Dillon did not know why the President wanted to see him. “I then thought it might be something personal or something to do with his (Carmona) family or his immediate security,” Rowley said

He told Dillon, “well then, find out.” Rowley said he had no further conversation with Dillon on the issue and Dillon left the country the following day for a trip that had been arranged prior to their discussions

Dillon returned home on September 12 and subsequently gave the Prime Minister a written statement on the meeting with the President. Rowley said he became alarmed and concerned on September 11, when he read in the newspapers about, “a major national security meeting” involving the Chief of Defence Staff, the Acting Police Commissioner and Minister Dillon, which was chaired by the President

While awaiting direct communication from Dillon, Rowley said he discovered a 30-point document on national security sent to him from the President

Rowley said he was concerned about a phrase in Carmona’s letter, in which the President said, “he had the consent of the attendees to tell me, what happened at this meeting.” Rowley sought advice from a Senior Counsel “with respect to the line of reporting and communication between the Minister, Prime Minister and President on this specific matter.” He said the legal advice received showed his concerns, “were well founded.” The Prime Minister said through the Head of the Public Service, he wrote the President on this development. Rowley told Cabinet about the legal advice and Cabinet reaffirmed the constitutional requirements relating to government ministers reporting to the Prime Minister and/ or President

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on September 2 said Government and the Opposition have agreed to use the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security as a mechanism to collaborate on the passage of effective anti-crime legislation in the Parliament. Indicating this mechanism will evolve as Parliament resumes its sittings from September 9, the Prime Minister said both sides have agreed to collaborate on legislation pertaining to the abolition of preliminary inquiries (PIs) and trials by jury

He also said Government and Opposition will have further talks regarding implementation of the death penalty

Addressing a news conference, following a meeting between Government and the Opposition, Rowley was optimistic that both sides have, “set the framework for future effective cooperation” to deal with crime in TT. He said after 90 minutes of dialogue, Government and Opposition agreed “to cooperate more effectively in the Parliament.” To this end, Rowley said Government will relinquish chairmanship of the National Security JSC to an Independent Senator, “so as to ensure that the political acrimony that may exist between Government and Opposition may not form part of the chairing of this committee.” This JSC was chaired in the Tenth Parliament by then Independent Senator Dr Rolph Balgobin. Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is the current chairman of that JSC now in the Eleventh Parliament

Rowley said the National Security JSC will literally be, “meeting on what the country needs to do...what legislation needs to be addressed..

to be created to be amended...where are the disagreements and do that behind closed doors before we come to the Parliament.” He said Government has also committed to alert the Opposition about legislation before the Legislative Review Committee “and then go forward when legislation takes shape, into committee and then to the Parliament floor.” Rowley said there was also consensus on the need for greater resources at the Parliament and Opposition Leader’s Office to facilitate more effective passage of legislation


"Rowley reshuffles Cabinet"

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