T&T PM to reshuffle Cabinet

(Trinidad Express)National Security Minister Emmanuel George and Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed are expected to lose their Cabinet portfolios when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar reshuffles her deck of ministers.

Senior Government sources told the Express the reshuffle will take place on Thursday.

The Express learnt that Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, who holds two Ministerial portfolios—the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Works—will be stripped of one portfolio.

The Government sources told the Express the Prime Minister is still reviewing several other ministerial portfolios but no final decision has yet been made on possible changes.

It will be the third re-alignment of the Persad-Bissessar administration in its three years of Government.

The Government sources explained that George’s appointment was initially a temporary one following the resignation of then National Security Minister Jack Warner in April. However, his appointment is to be revoked given the spike in murders over the weekend and the Ministry’s inability to significantly handle the crime scourge.

The next National Security Minister will be the country’s fourth Minister of National Security in the People’s Partnership administration. The first National Security Minister in the PP Government was Brigadier John Sandy, followed by Warner and then George.

Government sources insist the reshuffle is a necessary one coming on the heels of the United National Congress’ (UNC) defeat in the Chaguanas West by-election on July 29.

It was explained that the reshuffle is being undertaken by the Prime Minister in an attempt to address issues of governance and delivery ahead of the 2014 budget. The PM also wants to put the economy on a solid footing in the coming months, the Express was told.

Persad-Bissessar is expected to attend a meeting with the UNC’s national executive and will also meet with the party’s parliamentary arm tomorrow.

Last week, Persad-Bissessar met with Congress of the Leader (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar to discuss the Partnership’s defeat in the by-election. The COP had endorsed the UNC’s candidate Khadijah Ameen in the election race.

Ramadhar had told the Sunday Express that the individual political parties had been tasked with doing reports as to why the Government failed to capture what was once a safe seat for the UNC.

In June 2011, the Prime Minister made her first set of Cabinet changes, sacking four ministers—Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis, Public Administration Minister Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam, Minister in the Ministry of National Security Subhas Panday and Senator Patrick Watson, Minister in the Ministry of Finance. Two new ministries were created, the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development.

In June 2012, the Prime Minister brought in new faces to the Cabinet—former public utilities minister Ganga Singh, UNC deputy leader Marlene Coudray and banker Larry Howai and then UNC chairman Jack Warner was switched to the post of Minister of National Security from Ministry of Works and Transport.

Howai replaced Winston Dookeran as Minister of Finance. Dookeran was moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Water Resources and the Environment was created for Singh.

“The changes made must deliver a level of competence and performance for an impatient and expectant population,” Persad-Bissessar had said of the then reshuffle.

In the past few weeks, Persad-Bissessar has faced some challenges from within her own Partnership from Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and Congress of the People (COP) member Rodger Samuel.

Samuel, MP for Arima, has been on a fast to decide on his political options but has indicated he was considering resigning from the government.

In 2012, the Prime Minister defended her decision to increase the size of her Cabinet to 33 ministers which made it the largest Cabinet in Trinidad and Tobago’s history.

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