By Kenton X. Chance
St. Vincent and the Grenadines will, as of midnight tonight, Thursday, have a new Minister of Finance.
After holding the post since coming to office in March 2001, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has relinquished the finance ministry to his son, Camillo Gonsalves.
The 71-year-old leader will remain Minister of National Security, Air and Sea Port Development, Immigration and Legal Affairs.
The younger Gonsalves, who is 45 years old, will take on the Finance Ministry, in addition to his current portfolios of Economic Planning and Sustainable Development.
He will, however, shed ministerial responsibly for Industry, Information, Labour, Postal Service and the Bureau of Standards.
The major cabinet reshuffle, which comes less than two years after Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party (ULP) was returned to office for a fourth consecutive term could be an indication of the direction in which the prime minister would like his party to go as he prepares to transition to a new leader, and the country to a new prime minister.
With Camillo as Minister of Finance, he could present his first Budget as early as December or January.
The young Gonsalves, as well as Saboto Caesar, are seen as the two front-runners expected to become the next leader of the ULP.
However, all indications are that the prime minister is positioning the pieces to ensure that his son, a journalist, lawyer, and former diplomat, succeeds him.
A clear indication of this might be the fact that Caesar will take up three of the portfolios that Camillo was relieved of, namely Industry, Labour and the Bureau of Standards.
These are in addition to his current portfolios of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation.
The Cabinet reshuffle comes in a week when the prime minister had been kept away from work and missed Parliament reportedly as he recuperated from injuries he suffered when he was thrown about in his official vehicle as it swerved to avoid another vehicle last week.
St. Clair Jimmy Prince will take up ministerial responsibilities for Information, an extension of his former role as director of the Agency for Public Information.
As Minister of Information, Prince will also be responsible for the National Broadcasting Corporation, another state-owned media outlet.
The new assignment is in addition to his current portfolios of Education, Reconciliation, and Ecclesiastical Affairs.
Responsibility for the Postal Service will go to Sen. Julian Francis, who is Minister of Transport, Works, Urban Development and Local Government.