Practical, a nice match-up and fresh faces working with experienced ministers.
That’s how political analysts Dr Winford James and Maukesh Basdeo described the line-up of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s new Cabinet which was sworn in yesterday at President’s House.
“It is what I would call a mix with experienced incumbents and non-experienced MPs who would have to work alongside each other in various ministries to get the job done. The fact that the PM re-appointed several of his ministers has shown that he has confidence in them. That allows for continuity in policies which they can now follow through,” said Basdeo.
Basdeo gave Rowley a high grade in how he aligned the ministries and shifted a number of portfolios.
He said the line-up was practical.
“One would have to wait and see if the merging of Sports with Community Development and Tourism with Culture and the Arts would bear fruits in the next six months to a year. It is all left to be seen.”
It was also interesting, Basdeo said, to see two new faces-Stephen McClashie and Marvin Gonzales who won their seats in the August 10 general election being assigned critical ministerial portfolios in Rowley’s new Cabinet.
Equally interesting, Basdeo said was PNM’s general secretary Foster Cummings who served as a Senator in the last administration and captured the marginal La Horquetta/Talparo constituency at the polls was assigned as a junior minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Basdeo said the creation of the Ministry of Youth Development and National Services which was given to Fitzgerald Hinds could have been triggered by the raging protests and riots by young people in the capital city before the general election.
“The Prime Minister has recognised the problem with the youth and set up this ministry to focus on that.”
Basdeo said Allyson West, who was appointed Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation, would have her work cut out for her as the country moves towards E-government.
“That would help with the transformation effort across the state sector.”
In 2015, Rowley swore in 23 ministers and one Parliamentary Secretary as his new Cabinet. Out of these 23 ministers, there were six senatorial appointments.
At yesterday’s swearing-in 29 ministers took their oaths.
James said Rowley selected his team based on continuity from his previous administration.
“The Prime Minister would want the same general team that he had last term. And his appointments suggest that.”
While there were some adjustments, James said we have seen a few new faces coming via the Senate some of whom we are not familiar with.
“I would give Dr Rowley the benefit of the doubt that all the decisions he has made are good decisions. It is for the people whom he has put faith in to prove him right. I have no problem with the match-up. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
He said one problem, the last Cabinet faced was that not many of the ministers engaged the public with their performance.
“I hardly heard most of the ministers in the last administration. Others were kept in the background. I like a government that is loudly accountable.”
Though James said he knew nothing about McClashie and Gonzales’ track record, for Rowley to pick them “they must have some worth. But the nation would have to see how they fit themselves in their new portfolios. They are fresh blood in a continuous administration and therefore I imagine they would come up with new ideas.”
James spoke about Randall Mitchell who took the oath as Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.
During screening of candidates, James said the party had selected Brian Manning over Mitchell to fight the San Fernando East PNM seat which he won.
“It is interesting to see Mitchell was given a key ministerial post over Manning.”
Manning was appointed a junior minister in the Finance Ministry.
“I find this most intriguing. It seems Randall is somebody Dr Rowley has put a lot of trust in.”