KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The move of several Cabinet members to different ministerial positions last Monday is not expected to disrupt the functioning of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government, according to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
“Work continues. There are public servants there, there are permanent secretaries, technical persons who advise the ministers,” Gonsalves told reporters on Tuesday, the 18th anniversary of his election to Parliament.
He was speaking one day after several ministers took up new portfolios, including health, agriculture, tourism, and youth and sports in the first Cabinet reshuffle since the ULP won the December 2010 general election.
Gonsalves said that his Cabinet has “a lot of discussion about policy matters across ministries”.
He said these discussions sometimes include policy papers or memoranda.
“Because I want everybody to know in the Cabinet what is happening across the ministries, the directions where we are going, too. I tell you something, you have to run a cabinet where you have an informed party system,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves spoke of the two manifestos his party published ahead of the last general election and papers that he wrote on education, the economy, crime and security.
“So there is a party with a philosophy and with a programme and it is going forward and we discuss these things. … I can pull my drawer now and show you my manifesto. Why? That is my contract with the people. If I have to do something, when issues arise, I say to the public servants, ‘What is the policy of the government as articulated in the manifesto?’ They have to read it because a manifesto is not … a political adornment which you only put out to throw smoke in people’s eyes at election time,” Gonsalves said.
He said that without “a set of policies which hold the party together”, a political party becomes “a coalition of electoral elites”.
“And a coalition of electoral elites is a different thing than a party with a philosophy and a programme. If you have a coalition of electoral elites, you are always going to have a whole set of bassa bassa and no proper structured government.”
Gonsalves noted that since coming to office on March 28, 2001, he had not had reason to fire any of his ministers nor has any of his ministers resigned.
“It is a remarkable story. Look around what happen in the Caribbean [and] see the number of people who resign from government or who get fired. And one of the critical things … is how you manage your cabinet, how you manage your party and the informed policies which emerge,” the Prime Minister further stated.