May 25, 2015 News
– Junior Ministers to understudy seniors
The renaming of some ministries and the addition of a few new ones by President David Granger has raised eye-brows and criticisms in some quarters.
But President Granger said yesterday that some ministries have been merged with others and renamed, to emphasize their functions.
He cited the Ministry of Communities under which, former ministries like Local Government, Housing and Water were placed.
“When we speak of Communities, it is not just about places but about the social and other elements of living in a community. The intention is not just to speak of Local Government or speak of Housing but to foster a feeling among the residents that they belong to these new communities. We hope to infuse the feeling of community solidarity and provide not only physical facilities but social and cultural facilities to transform the communities.”
Granger said that as it relates to the Ministry of Presidency formerly Office of the President, one has to be cognizant of the great burden it has to direct other ministries and the weight of responsibilities it has with its own departments.
Considering this, Granger said that it was only fitting that it be renamed to emphasize the responsibility that the presidency has to direct the development of the country and to coordinate the work of other ministries. He sought to remind that the Natural Resources Ministry was not placed under the purview of the Ministry of Presidency “out-of-the –blue.” He said that based on the records of 2011, it was an inherited function of the office.
In terms of the Ministry of Citizenship, the President noted that there have been problems regarding registration and the granting of passports to aliens, illegal immigrants and the fact that at the time of elections, particularly, there always seems to be a “mad rush for people to get registered.”
Granger said he feels that the confusion can be eliminated and that his government intends to introduce a system to ensure that the right of Guyanese citizenship is protected from the cradle to the grave.
“And right now, it is not just a matter of having a Guyana Registration Office. It is a matter of ensuring that every single Guyanese child is registered free of cost because in some areas poor people can’t even afford to pay for the stamp. It has been difficult for people to acquire birth certificates and identification cards and we want a lifelong system so that people, both in Guyana and the Diaspora, can feel secure about their citizenship rights being protected and their status, secured.”
The President stressed that the system is one that is too important to be left in the “fragmented” state it is in and the creation of that Ministry, he believes will bring some order and accountability to that area. There are only 15 ministries and over 20 ministers but Granger said that the new additions such as the Ministry of Cohesion and the Ministry of Governance will be operating from the Ministry of the Presidency.
He said, too that the junior ministers are really “understudies” and this has become necessary because only about two persons in the Cabinet really have ministerial experience.
“We now find ourselves, after 23 years, with the need to train a new cadre of young ministers because they never had ministerial experience and it is burdensome and requires a great deal of commitment.”
Speaking on the importance of the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Granger said that there have been ethnic problems in the country and this entity will be working towards achieving a higher level of unity.
“We need someone specifically dedicated to that. We want to foster greater cohesion in that party as well so the Minister has a great responsibility, countrywide and within the coalition.”
He believes that this can be attained to some degree in first term. Granger said too that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport was not merged with the Ministry of Education on a mere whim. He said that it was only returned to where it came from.
The historian recalled that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport was created to provide a job for Miss Gail Teixeira who was removed from the Ministry of Health by the late Janet Jagan.
“The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) created many ministries to deal with internal conflict. After Clement Rohee was removed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001, they created something called the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Corporation for him.”
“When he was removed from there, that invention collapsed… These things were invented… they weren’t there from time immemorial.”
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