PM wanted to give new finance minister time before Budget
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Friday said it was important that the Cabinet shuffle that took effect midnight Thursday occurred before the presentation of the 2018 Estimates.
At midnight Thursday, the prime minister handed over the Finance Ministry to his son, Camillo Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Sustainable Development.
Most of the ministries that the younger Gonsalves shed were passed to Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar.
Gonsalves, who has not turned up to work this week because of injuries he sustained in his official vehicle, explained the timing of the Cabinet reshuffle in a call to his party’s radio station, Star FM, on Friday.
“It was important that I make the change some distance before the Estimates are presented to Parliament,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the Estimates of Income and Expenditure will be presented in Parliament sometime before the middle of January 2018.
“The new minister needs some time to familiarise himself in detail. Of course, all the Cabinet members know broadly what the numbers are because I have regular reporting sessions,” the prime minister said, adding that further consideration and reconciliation of the figures will now take place.
The prime minister noted that this is a Cabinet exercise and that he continues to chair the Cabinet.
“But Camillo assumes day-to-day responsibility for Finance as of today. In fact, yesterday, I had a meeting up here with a number of state officials and a delegation from the OPEC Fund for International Development … We had a kind of scoping discussion yesterday following up on preliminary discussion we have had on other matters and communications.”
Gonsalves said that the economic ministries are really held by Camillo, Caesar — who is also Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour — and Cecil “Ces” McKie, who is Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
“Outside of tourism, the economic levers, from a formal standpoint, are in the hands of Camillo and Saboto, of course, with the prime minister having oversight responsibilities,” Gonsalves said.
He said the state was about to make some announcements regarding broadcasting and information.
“But Jimmy will shepherd those and we hope to have some numbers in the Budget to deal with those matters too,” he said, referring to St. Clair Jimmy Prince, who has taken on the Information Ministry, in addition to Education, Reconciliation, and Ecclesiastical Affairs portfolios.
“But Jimmy has a long experience in that particular field, as you are aware, having been the Director of API for many years prior to his retirement from the Public Service,” Gonsalves said.