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Significant shifts expected in new ministerial portfolios in Trinidad and Tobago

Significant shifts expected in new ministerial portfolios in Trinidad and Tobago
Keith Rowley leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and Prime Minister of T&T

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The new government of the Keith Rowley administration in Trinidad and Tobago will see a significant shift in ministerial portfolios and possibly a new attorney general.

Reliable sources in the People’s National Movement (PNM) confirmed that Port of Spain South candidate Keith Scotland is seriously being considered to fill the second most senior Cabinet position and Diego Martin East candidate Colm Imbert, a former finance minister, may shift to the energy ministry.

It is said that San Fernando West candidate and current Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi may be shifted to another, yet-to-be decided ministry, while Port of Spain North candidate Stuart Young will retain his powerful position as national security minister and minister in the office of the prime minister, according to sources.

Party insiders said St Ann East candidate Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was a shoo-in for the post of education minister.

Arima candidate Penelope Beckles, who once challenged Rowley for the leadership of the party, and defeated Chaguanas East candidate Clarence Rambharat, will also be assigned front-line ministries, according to people close to the prime minister.

Beckles and San Fernando East candidate Brian Manning, the son of former prime minister Patrick Manning, are being seen as potential candidates to take over the leadership of the PNM for the 2025 general election, as Rowley has already indicated that this will be his last term in office, party insiders said.

Deputy political leader and campaign manager of the PNM Rohan Sinanan will retain the portfolio of works and transport to ensure continuity in the major road and highway networks as well as other mega-projects to be completed.

Laventille East/Morvant candidate Fitzgerald Hinds will likely retain the public utilities portfolio, which he assumed in the last administration after Robert Le Hunte resigned, sources said.

One senior party official said that it was solely up to the prime minister’s prerogative to assign ministerial portfolios to candidates and dismissed the notion of people lobbying for positions.

Scotland also said the same when contacted. “I have no further comment.”

The swearings-in of the new ministers will take place at the Office of the President once the Election and Boundaries Commission submits the final results to President Paula-Mae Weekes.

The only outstanding result to seal the 41 parliamentary seats is St Joseph, where the vote recount has been ongoing since last Wednesday. Five other seats in which recounts had been requested have confirmed the winning PNM candidates.

The new covid-19 restriction of five people to congregate at one time has turned the arrangements of the swearings-in upside down, according to a source at the Office of the President.

For any minister to be sworn in, the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the president’s aide-de-camp and the president’s secretary must be present. That means guests will be limited at the event and potential ministers will have to take the oath of office in batches.

Security and protocol personnel will also be limited at the event as well as members of the media, the official told Newsday.

The prime minister also has to advise the President of his choices to fill the 16 positions in the Senate. The Opposition Leader will have to submit six nominees for the Senate as well and the President has to appoint another nine independent senators.

The swearings-in will likely be completed by the end of this week and Parliament’s first order of business will be the 2020/2021 budget. (Newsday)

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