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Five first-timers in ULP Cabinet line-up

Five first-timers in ULP Cabinet line-up

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The new Unity Labour Party (ULP)-led government is now complete, with the swearing in and official announcements of the portfolios of the members of the Parliament for the next term.{{more}}

Two new portfolios, that of National Reconciliation and Wellness, have been added to the list, however Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves acknowledged at the swearing-in ceremony at Layou on Sunday, December 19, that there are also two fewer ministries.

The ministerial appointments are: Clayton Burgin, Minister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning, Lands and Surveys; Montgomery Daniel, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation; Saboto Caesar, Minister of Tourism and Industry; Cecil McKie, Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment; Maxwell Charles, Minister of National Reconciliation, the Public Service, Labour, Information and Ecclesiatical Affairs and Frederick Stephenson, Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Family, Persons with Disabilities, Gender, Youth, Sports and Culture.

The four Senatorial appointments: Dr Douglas Slater, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Consumer Affairs; Julian Francis, Minister of Transport, Works, Urban Development and Local Government; Elvis Charles, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and David Browne.

The Prime Minister said that he will be submitting the name of David Browne to the Parliament for consideration for him to be elected to the office of Deputy Speaker.

These appointments complete the Cabinet in which Prime Minister Gonsalves is the Minister of Finance, National Security, Grenadines Affairs and Legal Affairs; Girlyn Miguel, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Judith Jones-Morgan, the Attorney General. These three were sworn in last Wednesday, December 15.

Addressing the gathering Sunday, the prime minister said that he had put together an excellent Cabinet to implement the central policies, as were contained in the manifesto.

“This Cabinet has the benefit of an excellent platform of achievement over the past ten years,” Gonsalves said.

“I have carefully selected the Ministers for their respective portfolios and I have chosen persons for senatorial appointments from an abundance of riches within our Party,” he continued.

He spoke favourably on the appointments of Charles (Maxwell) and Slater.

“Maxwell has spent his life as a teacher and pastor, engaging in the history of reconciliation. He will be at the heart of the process of national reconciliation in this country, together with me and the other Cabinet ministers,” Gonsalves said.

He went on to single out Slater as being “one of the best Ministers”, adding that he (Slater) has had tremendous previous experience in the area of foreign policy, due to the work which he has had to do in representing the country on health-related matters.

Gonsalves added that Slater had also accompanied him on several missions around the world.

“He is an experienced debator, sharp mind and in the prime of his life and I did not want to have a foreign minister who has to travel quite a lot to be a Parliamentary representative,” the prime minister explained.

“I want my Parliamentary representatives to be on the ground to wage the ground war, if that is necessary,” he said.

Prime Minister Gonsalves also said that he would be submitting for consideration of the House of Assembly, Hendrick Alexander as Speaker for another term.

“Mr Alexander has been an excellent speaker, one of the most experienced, fair and, balanced ever to grace the speaker’s chair,” he said.

Dr Jerrol Thompson, former Minister of Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Industry and former area representative for North Leeward has been appointed the Director of Special Projects in the prime minister’s office.

“Dr Thompson will assist me in the portfolio of Telecommunications…he would also assist the prime minister’s office in areas of energy policy and the oversight of projects such as the international airport, the proposed new city at Arnos Vale, the cross-country road and the proposed cruise ship pier at North Leeward,” Gonsalves said.

He added that Thompson’s appointment was not expected to add to public expenditure, but would replace the position of fiscal advisor held by C.I. ‘Cims’ Martin, who has since retired.

Edwin Snagg and Herman Belmar have been reappointed to the directorate of Grenadines Affairs and will serve as director and deputy director respectively.

Michele Fife, who contested the West Kingstown seat for the ULP, has been appointed on contract as legal advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the area of regional and international treaties and agreements; her training and experience make her suitable for this appointment,” Gonsalves said.

Newcomer Luke Browne, who contested the East Kingstown seat, will be returning to Oxford University in January, 2011, for a six month period.

“When he returns to us, he will be reintegrated in the state’s administration,” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister also said that because there are now two fewer ministries, there will be consequential reassignments for the permanent secretaries, adding that the Cabinet Secretary and Director General of Finance and Planning will be in the discussion with the Public Service Commission to “effect the requisite changes.”

Also expected early in the New Year are changes to the boards of statutory bodies, state-owned companies and other public enterprises.

“Existing members of boards are clearly going to be part of the pool from which appointees will be drawn ,” Gonsalves said.

However, he added that it was “necessary and desirable” for there to be included many fresh faces and that the Cabinet would be making the decision for the appointment of the right persons for the positions.

He rounded up saying that there was a lot of work to be done.

“Our public enterprises must lift their game,” he said.

“Although some are performing well, others have their short comings which can be easily corrected.”

The prime minister urged all his ministers, senators and caretakers of constituencies to be in an ongoing communion with the people.

“They must love the people – let it shine forth and the people will return the love tenfold.”

Gonsalves said that he would be once again insisting on constituency and ministerial reports.

“The exercise of representing the people is grounded in government and politics; we must listen more attentively to the people and act always in their interest,” he said.(DD)

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