Devant 'ready to perform'
It's all about performance.
New Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj has said that it is irrelevant how he feels about concerns from farmers over him taking over this portfolio, but rather how well he performs in the position.
Since the announcement last Friday that Maharaj was to replace Vasant Bharath at the Ministry, farmers have expressed "shock and disappointment" over Bharath's transfer to Trade, Industry and Investment. Many have been worried that the work laid down by the Ministry over the last two years and the rapport developed between them and Bharath would have to begin from scratch now that there is a new appointee.
Speaking to the Express yesterday after his official "handing over" from Bharath at the Ministry's head office in St Clair, Maharaj responded, saying, "It is the same administration and I cannot repeat that enough. And policies upon which Bharath embarked would have received Cabinet approval and I have an appreciation for them. I hope to meet the targets established by the Government in reducing our food import bill."
He said while he has not yet met with any farmers just yet, a few farmers have already e-mailed him with some concerns.
Maharaj said it didn't matter that he had limited knowledge of agriculture to be minister.
"As (Bharath) mentioned to me, he is not a farmer either and didn't have much knowledge of agriculture either; however, this really is about the management of the portfolio and we both have (management experience)," he said.
Maharaj officially assumed his position yesterday, with Bharath introducing him to the senior staff at the Ministry and the divisional heads and respective board chairmen in the Ministry.
Maharaj's portfolio is only the Ministry of Food Production. Land and Marine Affairs will be transferred to another Ministry but Maharaj said he was unaware of the protocol. "I have to wait until the schedule is given," he said.