PM to separate Suruj’s portfolios
By Nalinee Seelal and Richardson Dhalai Friday, August 16 2013
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UNC NATEX MEETING: UNC Political Leader and Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, right, at Wednesday's national executive meeting at Rienzi Complex...
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar plans to separate the Ministry of Local Government from the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, double portfolios currently assigned to Tabaquite MP, Dr Suruj Rambachan.
Persad-Bissessar wants a minister who could focus exclusively on the Local Government Ministry, in light of local elections that are due in October, and local government reform.
She told United National Congress members of her plans during the party’s national executive (Natex) meeting at Rienzi Complex, Couva, on Wednesday.
Persad-Bissessar did not indicate when the change would occur, or who would head the Local Government Ministry.
However, Newsday understands the person being tipped for Local Government is Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Marlene Coudray, a former CEO of the San Fernando City Corporation.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Rodger Samuel is likely to take over Coudray’s current ministry, if the Cabinet changes take place. Samuel, a member of the Congress of the People, has been praying for God’s guidance on his future in the Government.
Rambachan was assigned the Local Government portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle last year, and was given additional responsibility for the Works and Infrastructure Ministry in a series of changes prompted by the resignation of Jack Warner as National Security Minister earlier this year. Emmanuel George was reassigned from Works and Infrastructure Minister to Minister of National Security.
Although pondering a proposal on whether to postpone Local Government elections, Persad-Bissessar, at the Natex meeting, advised newly sworn-in members of the party’s constituency executives that nomination forms were available for those persons who were interested in contesting the local elections.
Speaking to reporters prior to attending the installation ceremony for the constituency executives, Persad-Bissessar said the Natex members had discussed the way forward for the party and this would be discussed with constituency executives.
“We have constituency executives and they have their executive elections and the officers are here for installation and discussion of strategies as we chart our way forward,” she said. Rambachan yesterday said he abides by any decision of the Prime Minister. Contacted yesterday, Rambachan said, “it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to appoint and to disappoint, and one of the things we learned early in politics is that you are a caretaker of a position and its resources, and while you have that responsibility, you simply do your best to add value to it, because the post itself is not yours.”
The Minister added, “the duty of a politician moreso a Minister, is always to ensure that you give satisfaction to the people you are called upon to serve, and when the Prime Minister appointed me in 2013 to the position of Minister of Works and my current position in Local Government, we both understood that I was going to be a caretaker at the Works Ministry until she found a suitable replacement. So I am not surprised by any news that she may be now moving to fill the replacement.”
He however pointed out that the Local Government Ministry, in all its history has never done as many valuable projects as it has in one year and this includes 969 projects in the corporation, and also the paving of over 800 roads, and the construction of 32 pavilions and 60 bridges which are being built.
He also noted there are over 500 infrastructural URP projects which have been completed in the past 12 months, and that in no one year since its inception has this much work been done.
He concluded, “wherever I am next given the opportunity to serve, I will do so with distinction as that is within my nature.”