KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The changes to the Cabinet announced yesterday was not a as result of failure of the ministers or their ministries affected, according to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves announced that effective next Monday, Housing Minister Clayton Burgin will become Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment while outgoing Health Minster Cecil “Ces” McKie will be reassigned as Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture.
Montgomery Daniel will be transferred to the Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Lands and Surveys and Physical Planning. He will leave the Ministry of Agriculture for the first time since he was elected to Parliament in 2001.
Tourism Minister Saboto Caesar will become Minister of Agriculture, Industry, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation.
Senator Elvis Charles will be transferred from the Prime Minister’s office to become Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, with special responsibility for Sports and Culture.
Gonsalves said yesterday that the ministers have been reassigned so that they can have different experiences.
Responding to a journalist’s questions about whether the particular ministers were transferred because of failure in their current ministries, Gonsalves said ‘No” and noted that he has reshuffled his Cabinet several times since coming to office on March 28, 2001.
“It is good for ministers to be reassigned and have responsibilities,” he said.
He said that Burgin, who has been a parliamentarian and Cabinet member since 2001, has been minister of state in ministry of education, minister of education, minister of transport and works, and minister of housing.
“He is a man with great experience [in] different ministries. He is now in the Ministry of Health,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that Mckie has been doing “a very good job” at the Ministry of Health and has had a lot of accomplishments after one year. “He has put many important things in place there. But Ces would be happy, too, from his personality standpoint, to deal with Tourism and Sports and Culture. In fact, … when I put him in Health, people said they thought he was going to get Sports and Culture.
“Now, different time: different things. Now, I have judgements to make. I know where the issue are being – where some of the issues, we are putting some emphasis on as we are going forward,” Gonsalves said.
He said that Caesar has been doing “a tremendous amount of work” in Tourism and Industry.
“And you know there is a lot of revamping taking place in Vincyfresh, producing a number of commodities and Saboto is also a natural for the Ministry of Agriculture. He is in a rural constituency,” Gonsalves said.
He further noted that Daniel has been at the Ministry of Agriculture for 11 years. “It is good for him to have another area of work. He has a lot of work to do in the area of Lands, Informal Human Settlement and ‘Gomery is an individual who attends to a lot of detail like that. He will also do that.
“He has the support of the Housing and Land Development Corporation as the big housing programme — we are currently negotiating monies for a big housing push again. Clayton has done a lot of the basic work with the people at Housing and Land Development Corporation,” Gonsalves said.
Frederick Stephenson will no longer have ministerial responsibility for Sports and Culture.
Gonsalves said that Stephenson has been doing “very good work”.
“But the portfolio, when you look at the size, it was kind of spread and there was a fair amount of detailed attention that has to be given to Sports and Culture – a number of regional meetings and so on and so forth. I want to ease some of that,” he said.
Stephenson will now have ministerial responsibility for National Mobilization, Social Development, the Family, Persons with Disabilities, and Youth.
He further said that Charles has done “well” at the office of the Prime Minister’s office and a reassignment to the Ministry of Sports and Culture will “widens his experience further”.
“If you listen to my narrative and as I explain it, there is a consistency,” Gonsalves said.
“I am the chairman of Cabinet. I know what is taking place in every ministry and I like the different ministers to have different experiences and strengthen their capacity. I know we have done a good job here in these reassignments,” Gonsalves said of the reshuffle that came 14 months to the day his Unity Labour Party was re-elected to a third term in office.
“Of course, there are some persons who are going to say why didn’t he reassign Tom to here or Mary to there. Of course, unfortunately for those person, they don’t hold the office of the prime minister and they don’t know how I want to see the government shaped in going forward,” he added.
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