Ministers and Senators of the Dr Keith Rowley-led administration have been sworn in. Speaking to the media following the ceremony, the Ministers outlined the plans for their Ministry, stating in all cases that meetings have to be held first with the relevant stakeholders before plans begin to be deployed. Here’s a look at what some of them had to say.
Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat, and Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Avinash Singh.
Rambharat, said his priority is reviving the Cocoa and Coffee industries. “It’s part of the wider plan to reinvigorate the agriculture sector to include local foods more widely into the school feeding programme.” Parliamentary Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, Avinash Singh, however, dismissed a possible conflict of interest his new position and his family’s business. Singh said his family are stakeholders in the agriculture sector through farming, but said that he can divorce himself from any link to his family’s business while executing his duties. Asked whether he thought it was fair he received his post despite losing at the polls as a candidate to represent the people, Singh said “I think our youth need to come forward to be responsible, not because you’re not successful at the polls doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified to hold a post.”
Singh said the priority for him is getting the public to understand the advancement of technology in farming that youth will begin to understand more about farming and become more involved. “When I get into line ministry with minister we’ll roll out our plan, whether it’s rice, rehabilitation of Caroni lands, vegetable production, hydroponics, bring technology in and include people as participants.”
Sport and Youth Affairs Minister, Daryll Smith.
Smith said the focus of his Ministry will be on Athletes. Speaking to the media following the swearing-in ceremony, Smith said the public doesn’t not go to events to see a Minister, therefore the focus must be on Athletes. “I will be meeting with all athletes in various sports. The days of struggle for athletes are long gone. Buildings and Billion dollar projects are not priority. So I have to meet with athletes first and sporting organisations after,” Smith said.
Regarding the controversial Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Smith said “As a state agency I’m having a meeting at the ministry, another meeting in Tobago. No decision has not been made yet as to what will happen with the Sport Company. Still have to iron out issues such as maintenance of sporting facilities, state sport buildings to be maintained so that issues are not run into. As for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), we plan to go down to the primary school level to develop systems properly so there’s a smooth transition into the secondary school system.”
Labour and Small Enterprise Development, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus
Long-standing trade unionist and now Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus says there was discrimination in wage negotiations with the previous administrations, having 83 outstanding matters. She said the Oilfield’s Workers Trade Union (OWTU) was the victim of it. “The way you deal with issues like these is you do not discriminate,” she says. “I have a roadmap that’s in the manifesto. At the top of that list, is establishing the tri-partite mechanism to be established, so we can establish a work agenda. I know quite well what labour requires, we may not agree on everything, but whatever it is the decision is in the best interest of the people.”
Baptiste-Primus said respecting Labour is about informing labour. “If information is shared and what we intend to do on the state of the economy, and they are brought into the picture early, we are all reasonable people. If the economy cannot withstand a certain demand and information is communicated I’m quite sure we’re dealing with reasonable people. We don’t know what we’re going in there to meet, when the new minister of finance, when he does his analysis. I have to be advised by my Permanent Secretary what the outstanding negotiations are left, which unions, what is the state, who is at where and what is the cost factor and then we’ll seek a way to map forward. I’m confident we can overcome challenges. We’re dealing with respect.”
Communications Minister, Maxie Cuffie.
Speaking about state-owned Caribbean New Media Group, Cuffie said the mandate of CNMG was always a problem, saying that mechanisms have to be developed to prevent political interference. “Privitisation is an option,” he said, adding “including looking at the BBC model, and CBC model (of funding).”
The BBC is funded by public subscription in the form of a Licence Fee and licence payers paid £2,658 million (USD $4.1 Billion) in fees in the latest audited financial year (2002-2003) making the BBC the most extensive and best-funded Public Service Broadcaster in the world.
Tourism Minister, Shamfa Cudjoe
“Tourism is very important especially to Tobago given the state of economy,” Cudjoe began when addressing the media. “Some of my plans are to meet with the relevant agencies and stakeholders and in the ministry to get an idea of the state of the tourism industry and ministry. Not just for the tourism minister, but for all ministries, we consult before making decision and implementing policy.”
Cudjoe said the proposed Toco port and ferry service would be major contributor to tourism to Tobago.
MINISTERS AND SENATORS OF THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL MOVEMENT SWORN IN TODAY
Fitzgerald Hinds – Works and Transport
Shamfa Cudjoe – Tourism
Paula Gopee-Scoon – Trade and Industry
Clarence Rambharat – Agriculture, Land and Fisheries
Cherrie-Ann Crichlow–Cockburn – Social Development and Family Services
Darryl Smith – Sport and Youth Affairs
Brigadier Gen. Ancil Antoine (Ret.) – Public Utilities
Franklyn Khan – Rural Development and Local Government
Randall Mitchel – Public Administration
Brig. Gen. Edmund Dillon (Ret.) – National Security
Maxie Cuffie – Communications
Ayana Webster Roy - Minister of State Enterprises in the Office of the Prime Minister
Marlene McDonald – Housing and Urban Development
Camille Robinson-Regis – Planning and Sustainable Development
Colm Imbert – Finance
Dennis Moses – Foreign and Caricom affairs
Jennifer Baptiste-Primus – Labour and Small Enterprise Development
Stuart Young – Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs
Terrence Deyalsingh – Health
Nicole Olivierre – Energy and Energy Affairs
Nyan Gadsby Dolly – Community Development, Culture and the Arts
Anthony Garcia – Education