Aug 06, 2020 News Comments Off on 15 new faces join PPP/C Cabinet
– Finance Minister yet to be named
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)’s new Cabinet has been packed with new faces, many of whom are markedly young.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, as well as the party’s veterans, Anil Nandlall, Gail Teixeira and Bharrat Jagdeo, had taken up their posts on the day of President Irfaan Ali’s swearing in- Sunday last. Yesterday, saw 19 more appointments.
The Ministry of Agriculture will be headed by Zulfikar Mustapha. He has served as a Member of Parliament for the party; was the former Region Six Chairman; the party’s Chief Scrutineer in the recently concluded electoral process, and its Executive Secretary.
The Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs appears to have reverted to its name under the PPP/C- the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Pauline Sukhai, who previously headed the Ministry up to 2015 under the PPP/C, has resumed occupation of the post.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport will be headed by Charles Ramson Jr. This Ministry was, under the previous government, placed under the Ministry of the Presidency, and was dubbed Ministry of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport. Following Ramson’s swearing in, the Attorney-at-Law was asked whether he expected to be placed in a Ministry of or akin to Natural Resources, as he has a Master’s Degree in Oil & Gas Management. Ramson said that the most important resource in Guyana is not oil, but the people. He said that in the past few years, Guyana was absent in youth and sport leadership, and a mediocre arrangement where culture is concerned. Ramson pointed to a background in sport and dealing with youth, which he determined would equip him well to manage such a portfolio.
“I am not disappointed,” Ramson told the press. “In fact, I am elated…”
Priya Manickchand has returned to the Ministry of Education, having served in that post under multiple previous PPP/C governments. The Attorney-at-Law was previously attached to the Legal Aid Clinic, and has served as Minister of Human Services under a previous Jagdeo-led government.
Karen Cummings’ spot at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been taken over by Hugh Todd. Todd is Assistant Dean in the School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, University of Guyana. He handles the Ministry’s portfolio at a vital time, as Guyana is currently involved in a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the ownership of the Cooperative Republic’s Essequibo region once and for all, and protect against Venezuela’s claims.
Dr. Frank Anthony has been appointed Minister of Health. He previously served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport. Anthony gave an extensive interview to members of the press yesterday on his plans for the health sector, as he is taking over while Guyana is in a pandemic. He has criticised the infrastructure established by the previous government to manage the pandemic as poor and disjointed, and intends to rapidly improve the response.
Robeson Benn now sits at the helm of the Ministry of Home Affairs, reverted from Public Security, where Khemraj Ramjattan served. Benn was the Minister of Public Works under the last PPP/C government, and he briefly acted in the Home Affairs portfolio. Benn is a Commissioner on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and passionately represented the party during the electoral process. Following Ali’s swearing in, Vice President Jagdeo had commended Benn for his advocacy.
Colin Croal, who served as Member of Parliament during the PPP/C’s time as Opposition in the previous term, is now at the helm of the Ministry of Housing & Water. This portfolio has been moved out from under former Minister Bulkan’s, Ministry of Communities, which has also been revamped. A former Permanent Secretary, he is the brother of former Minister Robert Persaud.
Susan Rodrigues, of the youngest members of the PPP/C Cabinet, will be joining Croal as Minister within the Ministry of Housing & Water.
The Ministry of Labour has now been freed from the Ministry of Social Protection, and will be headed by Joseph Hamilton. He used to be a member of the People’s National Congress (PNC). Following his move over to the PPP/C, he had served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, and a Member of Parliament.
The Ministry of Social Protection has been renamed to Minister of Human Services & Social Security, and will be headed by Dr. Vindhya Persaud. She has years of service as a Member of Parliament, a medical doctor, and President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.
The Ministry of Communities appears to have been renamed Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, with Nigel Dharamlall at the head. Dharamlall has served as a PPP/C Member of Parliament, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. He is joined by owner of National Television Network (NTN), Anand Persaud, who will serve as Minister within that Ministry.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has been taken over by Vickram Bharrat, who had replaced Ramson Jr. in the National Assembly in 2016. President Ali was asked where the portfolio for Energy/Oil would fall. He said that it would be made evident in an upcoming edition of the Official Gazette, delineating the ministers’ responsibilities.
Warren Kwame McCoy is now Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister. McCoy said after his swearing in, that his responsibility will be for Public Affairs. He will be in charge of State media entities, including Guyana Chronicle, National Communications Network (NCN) and the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Attorney-at-Law and relative newcomer to the scene, Sonia Parag, is now Minister of Public Service, which appears to have moved out from the Ministry of the Presidency.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure is now reverted to Ministry of Public Works. It is headed by Bishop Juan Edghill. He formerly served as Ministry of Finance; was an advisor to former President Jagdeo, and Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Committee (ERC).
Businessman and Accountant, Deodat Indar, will serve within the Ministry of Public Works. Indar was President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and was Vice Chair of the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce will be headed by Oneidge Walrond, daughter of Grantley Walrond. She is a former Magistrate, and was one of the persons suggested by Jagdeo to serve as Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Kaieteur News also learnt yesterday that Prime Minister Phillips will be responsible for Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA). He will also handle the portfolio of Telecommunications, formerly handled as a separate Ministry by Cathy Hughes. A former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Phillips will sit on the Defence Board. He will also oversee the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and Public Information.
The Finance portfolio is expected to be under the control of the Ministry of the Presidency until a Minister is appointed.
Following the swearing in of the Ministers yesterday, President Ali called the appointments a “multi-faceted fusion of experience and skill-sets” and challenged the Ministers to move swiftly to ensure the country is taken care of. The government is expected to provide clarity on other Ministerial responsibilities in a publication of The Official Gazette.
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