A meeting held yesterday between President David Granger and executive members of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) sought to reaffirm that the system of communications among parties will be reinforced and remains strong, the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) said.
The two sides met after the WPA, which is a member of the coalition government, publicly complained about the lack of consultation on the President’s decision to reassign WPA Co-leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine to the Ministry of the Presidency with specific responsibility for the public service, while a department within the MoTP will oversee innovation and reform in the education sector. Up until that decision was taken Roopnaraine was the Minister of Education.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon had told reporters at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Friday that a meeting was scheduled for yesterday to discuss the issue.
The MoTP said in a release that the WPA remains a strong and integral member of the coalition government.
In an invited comment following the meeting which was held at State House, Harmon was quoted as saying “The President explained that he did, in fact, consult but they felt that the consultation should be wider and deeper. The meeting this morning was about dealing with how we will consult and the way forward. The President did, in fact, explain that the way the coalition government is structured… there are representatives of the parties in the Cabinet and in the National Assembly and it is really a responsibility of the representatives of that party in the Cabinet [and National Assembly] to ensure that they keep [party members and] the executives briefed on what is taking place in the government.”
Harmon, according to the release, while describing the meeting as cordial, said the WPA executives stated that they understood that it was within the jurisdiction and authority of the President to assign or reassign ministers as needed. “His Excellency was very clear on the rearrangement, which needs to stay in place so that our coalition government remains very strong and that is to say that all the parties within the coalition government; the six parties, that we hold all of them as integral to the formation of our government and we will continue to communicate with those parties… I think that the respect for the President’s decision was there throughout and, quite contrary to what some people out there are saying, the WPA is a very strong part of the partnership and a very strong part of our coalition Government,” he was quoted by MoTP as saying.
Expanding, Harmon said innovations and reforms are critical to the education sector and this is the ultimate responsibility of the President of Guyana. According to the release, Harmon said, “The President has made it actually very clear that he is not prepared to allow our children access to an education system, which fails them and we have to take steps and we have to make the decisions, which are necessary in the interest of the children of this country.”
The new department will allow for the development of policies and programmes needed for the long-term development of the sector and will also allow the Minister of Education to be able to focus on the day-to-day implementation and administration of the sector, the release said.
“The CoI [Commission of Inquiry into the Education Sector] pointed to that fact and what the President extracted out of that was that what was needed was some entity, which did not burden the Minister of Education in dealing with matters going forward; innovation, reforms and so on, in the education sector. So His Excellency recommended that we create a department that will oversee these initiatives and so this is how that came up, and in fact, [during] the meeting, this morning, they recognised that too. They said they were happy about it and they recognised that it was a good move and that His Excellency actually read the report very thoroughly and understood what was going on,” Harmon was quoted as saying.
Attending the meeting for the WPA were Dr Clive Thomas, Dr David Hinds, Dr Wazir Mohammed, Dr Rishi Thakur, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Desmond Trotman, Tacuma Ogunseye, Jinnah Rahaman and Mazarool Ekbaal Ali Majeed. Accompanying the Presi-dent, along with Harmon, were Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams and Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally, the release said.
Following the reassignment of Roopnaraine, junior minister Nicolette Henry has been elevated to the post of Education Minister and will perform the duties of that office until the President decides otherwise.