(Trinidad Express) She didn’t use the term Cabinet reshuffle.
But Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced last night that she would undertake a “reconfiguration” of her Cabinet and of the membership of State boards.
It is expected to be done within the next two weeks.
The Prime Minister made the announcement last night as she wrapped up her feature address at the “We Stand Strong” second anniversary rally of the People’s Partnership at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas.
“This is a time when we must take the nation’s development to a whole new phase. To achieve this I am calling in all my ministers…all the members of State boards and I am calling them in to provide an account of their stewardship of their ministries and State boards. We are approaching mid-term…our discussions must be frank and cordial. But we must do this on the basis of evaluating performance and after having evaluated their performance, I will then undertake a reconfiguration of the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and of the State boards,” she said.
One year ago she had announced that there would be a “realignment” of the Cabinet and weeks later—in June 2011—implemented a major Cabinet reshuffle.
Persad-Bissessar said she will make the decisions necessary in the interests of what is now required in the new phase of the Government.
She said she believed her government had built a solid foundation upon which to advance the “blueprint for national development that would be historic in nature”.
She added that the blueprint will be launched in June, and has been in progress over the past months.
“It would be presented to the business and national community within two weeks, along with those who would hold the portfolios as members of the Cabinet and State enterprises—the A team who would take this (blueprint) forward over the next few years,” she said.
The Prime Minister, however, spent much of her address dealing with the naysayers and those who attacked her administration.
Making no apologies for celebrating her government’s second year in office, she said: “Your critics have suggested you should not celebrate your anniversary…I say…some of them who didn’t get all the gifts they wanted, today they wanted to call off the celebration, but they still wanted to stay around and eat the cake and enjoy the ice cream.”
She said her coalition government was about diversity, not adversity, and as a leader she had encouraged open expression of views and respect for different positions.
“For those who speak about withdrawal and talk about walk-outs, I say to them ‘you may have an intense view and an intense moment, but such a strategy (of withdrawal and walkout) could never be one that is deliberate’.”
Noting that one partner was missing from the celebration, the Prime Minister said: “Never mind David (Abdulah, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice) I still love you.”
Persad-Bissessar said her government was under attack within and without and that those opposed to change were using every resource at their disposal, whether it was to be found in the media, in the public service, in labour and in the very membership of the People’s Partnership.
As she stressed that Government believed that every corner of the country must be developed, she said just because activity was not concentrated in Port of Spain, it did not mean nothing was happening.
Congress of the People political leader Prakash Ramadhar’s address, while pledging support for the Partnership, did express his unhappiness with some of the areas of governance in the People’s Partnership administration.
He called for the rooting out of corruption, and for meaningful dialogue with the Highway Re-route Movement. He also said injustice and bias must be destroyed.
He said it saddened him to no end that the MSJ felt the need to take the stand it did.
He said its concerns must not be minimised since it was a valuable member of the Partnership.
He said the COP was unhappy with many things and with the way it has been treated.
“We cannot continue in this manner,” he said. “We (the COP) might be outnumbered but not outgunned.”
One of the highlights of the rally was a “surprise guest”, calypsonian “Sugar Aloes”, a longstanding People’s National Movement (PNM) supporter. Known for his anti-United National Congress (UNC) lyrics, Aloes literally sang the Prime Minister’s praises: “She is a queen, she is so royal.”
Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters and Works Minister Jack Warner danced with delight as Persad-Bissessar waved the UNC flag last night.