Former Minister of Education Dr Rupert Roopnaraine yesterday said he is comfortable with his reassignment and expressed absolute confidence in his replacement Nicolette Henry.
One Tuesday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon announced that the longstanding politician and co-leader of the WPA was from yesterday reassigned to the Ministry of the Presidency and now holds responsibility for the Public Service.
An announcement from Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland yesterday acknowledged Roopnaraine’s appointment as Public Service Minister as of June 14, 2017.
Minister Henry whose substantive post is Minister within the Ministry of Education will, according to Harmon, “continue to perform the functions of the office of Minister of Education until further notice.”
Henry’s promotion raised eyebrows as her performance to date has been lacklustre and error-strewn. Sources say that Roopnaraine had not been well-enough to perform the onerous functions associated with his portfolio. He had had a number of medical emergencies over the last two years.
Questioned about his new post yesterday, Roopnaraine told reporters at Parliament that he expects to face challenges at the Public Service Department.
“I am looking forward to the new Ministry. It is a new challenge, I did the best I could in the Education Ministry. We got some things achieved,” he said.
He stressed that he does not see his reassignment as a demotion and said that his health was not a factor in the reassignment even as he acknowledged that the workload was burdensome.
“Certainly not …I don’t see it as a demotion. I’m still in cabinet and I’m still working closely with the President,” Roopnaraine said, adding that he recognised that the Ministry of Education is probably the most important ministry.
He explained that the Ministry had been onerous and noted that there was a concern at Cabinet that he “not be worn out” even as he maintained that his health is fine.
“There is nothing wrong with me that a little rest can’t cure,” he said.
Asked if he was confident in his replacement, Roopnaraine said that he had “absolute confidence in Minister Henry” and believed that the Ministry has been left “in good hands”.
Asked to comment on the contention by the WPA that they were not consulted on his reassignment, the Minister stressed that he was consulted. He however made clear that he did not request the transfer.
“I didn’t request it. You serve at the president’s discretion.
There was discussion, I was consulted,” he said in response to questions on the issues.
Asked to say why his party was not consulted Roopnaraine explained that the place for such a consultation is at a meeting of the APNU executive committee which has not been meeting regularly.