PM: Reshuffle in 2 weeks
Innis Francis and Anna Ramdass
There will be a Cabinet reshuffle in two weeks’ time, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced last night.
The Prime Minister made the disclosure while speaking with reporters following a function at the United National Congress’s party headquarters at Rienzi Complex, Couva.
Persad-Bissessar said the reshuffle would take place before Parliament reconvened and the “realignment of portfolios” was meant to result in “better delivery”.
The Prime Minister said it was a “temporary arrangement” that the ministries of Works and Local Government were combined (and handled by Suruj Rambachan) and that it would be divided again into separate ministries.
The other changes, she said, were on the drawing board.
“I am giving consideration to those, for us to better show up the work (of Government) and deliver.”
Persad-Bissessar’s plan to reshuffle was reported by the Express several weeks ago, but her decision to disclose it last night came as a surprise to many.
The reshuffle will be the third in three years for the People’s Partnership coalition, which won power in May 2010.
The Prime Minister had attended a function where school book bags were given to deserving children at Rienzi Complex. Persad-Bissessar said a similar exercise would take place in all constituencies.
Some people had come to Rienzi Complex since 10 a.m., the Express was told. Several said they were disappointed they had to wait with their children throughout the day to receive an empty bag.
Regarding the performance of the Government, Persad-Bissessar told reporters “there is always room for improvement (given) our recent experiences talking with the MPs and constituents. I do believe we can realign in a way that can help us to improve”.
Persad-Bissessar, who announced on Tuesday that local government elections would be held before the end of October, said the closing date for the nomination of candidates was 4 p.m. on September 9.
In other news, Persad-Bissessar has called in heads of all regional health authorities and Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan to a meeting today.
The Express understands the meeting will take place at 4.30 p.m. at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair.
The weekly Cabinet meeting and National Security Council meetings are also scheduled for today.
Sources told the Express heads and board members of the North West Regional Health Authority, the North Central Regional Health Authority, the South West Regional Health Authority and Eastern Regional Health Authority will all be in attendance at today’s meeting.
The meeting was called to examine the status of the health sector and various mega projects that have been promised, such as the National Oncology Centre, Couva Children’s Hospital and Penal chronic disease treatment centre.
Earlier this month, Khan renewed a promise to deliver the oncology centre in 18 months, estimated to cost close to a billion dollars.
The oncology centre is almost a decade overdue, having been promised by the former People’s National Movement administration but never delivered.
The Prime Minister’s talks with the various health heads will also gauge the amount of money that will be allocated to the health sector in the national budget, which Finance Minister Larry Howai will deliver on September 9.
The Express understands that as the Prime Minister has announced local government elections would be held before the end of October, focus will be placed on key areas such as crime, health and social services.
Sources told the Express all Government members and MPs have been mandated to start their unofficial campaigns by being more present on the ground.
Persad-Bissessar attended several community events in her Siparia constituency on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with health officials today follows meetings she held last week with law enforcement officials, the Opposition and people of East Port of Spain on the pressing issue of crime.