Five new faces in Jagdeo's cabinet
Foreign affairs to go to technocrat
Leslie Ramsammy new health minister, Navin Chandarpal at agriculture

Stabroek News
April 10, 2001

President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday announced his cabinet with five new faces. Four technocrats to be announced later will take up positions in the ministries of Foreign Affairs; Tourism and Industry; Legal Affairs; and Economic Planning and Development.

The five new faces announced yesterday were Dr Leslie Ramsammy - Minister of Health, Navin Chandarpal - Minister of Agriculture, Carolyn Rodrigues - Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Dr Jennifer Westford - Minister of Public Service and Bibi Shadick - Minister within the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security.

Those who have been dropped are Charles Ramson (Legal Affairs), Indra Chandarpal (Human Services and Social Security), Vibert De Souza (Amerindian Affairs) George Fung-On (Public Service Management). Geoffrey Da Silva, Jagdeo said, has not been given a ministerial post but will hold the position of chief executive officer of a new Investment Agency which will replace the Guyana Office for Investment.

This new Investment Agency will be chaired by Jagdeo himself and will be a part of the Office of the President. Jagdeo said prominent persons would sit on the board of this agency, including Paul Hardy of the Guyana Action Party which contested the March 19 elections with the Working People's Alliance. Jagdeo said he would chair this agency because of the importance of securing investments for Guyana.

No one has been identified for the Ministry of Information with Jagdeo saying he has not made a decision on this ministry as yet. However, he indicated that talks are continuing with persons to fill the four technocrat positions as designated. He said these positions will be filled shortly as some of the persons were overseas, needed more time to discuss the issue with their families or to hand over certain duties before they accepted their appointments.

The President indicated that some "very qualified persons" were approached to fill these positions but they turned down the opportunity because they did not want to be tainted with the nastiness of politics.

He also said there will be continuous changes in the Cabinet make-up.

Twelve of the former ministers have been retained with four of these assigned new portfolios. Clement Rohee, former foreign minister, is now the foreign trade minister with responsibility for such arrangements as the World Trade Organisation, the Free Trade Areas of Americas talks, the African, Caribbean and Pacific states and the European Union arrangement. It is evident that there has been a tussle for Rohee to be retained in the foreign affairs portfolio. Rohee was one of those ministers whose performance since 1992 had come in for criticism. It was felt that this key ministry needed fresh talent.

Jagdeo, announcing Rohee's new post, said some of the most serious challenges to Guyana's stability were not its borders but economic issues. He saw the need to dedicate a ministry to foreign trade to allow Guyana to put its best foot forward so that it could enjoy preferences in trading arrangements and to be able to focus on negotiating new trading arrangements and treaties.

Reepu Daman Persaud has been relieved of the Agriculture Ministry portfolio, but retains responsibility for Parliamentary Affairs, which had always been part of his mandate. He will operate from the Office of the President.

Dale Bisnauth, who held the portfolio for education for two terms, heads the Ministry of Human Services, Social Security and Labour.

Henry Jeffrey, formerly minister of health and labour, heads the Education Ministry.

Those returning to their former positions are Ronald Gajraj (Home Ministry), Gail Teixeira (Culture, Youth and Sports), Satyadeow Sawh (Fisheries, Crops and Livestock), Shaik Baksh, (Housing and Water), Harripersaud Nokta (Local Government) and Clinton Collymore as a minister within that ministry; and Anthony Xavier (Transport and Hydraulics).

Saisnarine Kowlessar is the new minister of finance, having formerly served as minister in the office of the president with responsibility for finance.

Jagdeo indicated that the Finance Ministry's functions were being split with the creation of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development to be headed by a technocratic minister. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry has been redesignated Ministry of Tourism and Industry with a technocrat to be appointed minister.

Jagdeo's cabinet announcements came close to 5.30 pm yesterday just after a fire engulfed Kissoon's Furniture City at Camp and Robb Street and moved to adjoining buildings.