Nine new members in Cabinet

Guyana Chronicle
April 10, 2001

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday announced much anticipated Cabinet appointments, keeping his promise of changes by introducing nine new faces and switching portfolios among Ministers.

New ministers are Dr Jennifer Westford, Minister of Public Service Management; Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Health; Ms Bibi Shadick, Minister in the Ministry of Human Services, Social Security and Labour; Ms Carolyn Rodrigues, Minister of Amerindian Affairs and Mr Navin Chandarpal, Minister of Agriculture.

President Jagdeo said four technocrats will be named for Minister of Planning and Economic Development; Minister of Tourism and Industry; Minister of Foreign Affairs and an Attorney General.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will now have a new section, Ministry of Foreign Trade, which will be managed by former Foreign Minister, Mr Clement Rohee. He will deal with World Trade Organisation issues, Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations and Joint Commissions.

The post of Foreign Minister will be held by one of the technocrats.

The Ministry of Tourism and Industry is now minus the Trade portfolio, which will covered in a soon to be established Trade and Investment Agency.

Minister Geoff Da Silva who headed this ministry in the previous Government will be the Chief Executive Officer of the new agency, while a technocrat will be in charge of the ministry.

President Jagdeo, who noted the importance of investment to the future of the country, will chair the new agency and leader of the Guyana Action Party/Working People's Alliance, Mr. Paul Hardy will be on its Board of Directors.

The entity will be operated within the Office of the President.

Mr Jagdeo will also be in charge of the Information Ministry.

The rest of the Cabinet are Dr Henry Jeffrey, Minister of Education; Dr Dale Bisnauth, Minister of Human Services, Social Security and Labour; Mr Harripersaud Nokta, Minister of Local Government; Mr Clinton Collymore, Minister in the Ministry of Local Government; Mr Saisnarine Kowlessar, Minister of Finance; Mr Shaik Baksh, Minister of Housing and Water; Mr Ronald Gajraj, Minister of Home Affairs; Mr Reepu Daman Persaud, Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Parliamentary Affairs; Mr Satyadeow Sawh, Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock; Ms Gail Teixeira, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports; Mr Navin Chandarpal, Minister of Agriculture; and Mr Anthony Xavier, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Ministry of Public Works.

Announcing the appointments yesterday afternoon in the Credentials Room of the Office of the President, President Jagdeo said that in choosing the Cabinet he has operated under a law that no other President of Guyana before him had to operate under.

"I had restrictions placed on my ability to appoint people...," he said.

The President was referring to a new law passed in Parliament a few months ago, limiting to four, the number of technocrat ministers that could come into the Government from outside the list of candidates presented by the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for the March 19 elections.

President Jagdeo, however, noted that this law was supported by all Members of Parliament including those representing the main opposition People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R).

He said the Cabinet will be changed frequently over the next five years based on his assessments.

The President also reiterated his numerous calls to PNC/R leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte and the leadership of the PNC/R to engage in dialogue, but firmly said he will not succumb to dialogue coming out of intimidation or threats.

"I hope that my call for dialogue will be answered and answered quickly and that we can get down to the business of managing this country and moving our country forward.

"I am interested in dialogue but I want to make it clear that dialogue where both sides participate as equals will yield results, (but) dialogue coming out of intimidation and threats will not yield results".

"I believe genuinely that this country can move forward if all the parties work together," he said, adding that "threats and force will not solve anything and it will not make me succumb to any dialogue or to give in to any unreasonable demands."

"So I want to make that very clear. Our country needs to move on, we have had general and regional elections and the results were quite clear (and) they were sanctioned by all the international observers that came to Guyana," President Jagdeo said.

The PPP/C gained some 52 per cent and PNC/R approximately 42 per cent of the votes cast.

President Jagdeo referred to a post-elections statement from the Commonwealth observer group, which said the elections were the most observed in the history of the Commonwealth.

"The results are clear and it's time to move on. Our country needs stability for us to move forward and with stability would come more investment, more jobs and better education, health care, housing, water...the important things that our people so badly demand," President Jagdeo said.

He added: "We also have to develop a culture of dialogue in this country and it seems as though that is lacking until now where political leaders of this country cannot deal maturely enough to understand that the whole country and all the people rely on us."

According to President Jagdeo, personalities sometimes become more important than the country.

"I want to make it clear that no one, not Mr Hoyte nor myself, we're not more important than the people of this country and the welfare of this country and we have to behave in such a way," President Jagdeo declared.

Yesterday's appointments are in keeping with the deadline given by the Guyana Elections Commission for a list of the Members of Parliament to be submitted by Thursday.

President Jagdeo said the Government has to get Parliament reconvened quickly so the Government can move forward with Constitutional reform and key pieces of legislation that have already been drafted.

Among those present for the announcements yesterday were soon-to-be-sworn-in Prime Minister, Mr. Sam Hinds; Dr Roger Luncheon, who was sworn in amidst protest last week as Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Mr Kellawan Lall, Political Advisor to the President.

President Jagdeo thanked those persons who served in the previous Cabinet for the service they have given to the country and said he is continuing discussions with a number of persons, locally and overseas-based and from other political parties before naming the four technocrats in his Government.