ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER ON REALIGNMENT OF CABINET PORTFOLIOS
Fellow Citizens, as I had previously announced, it has been my intention to undertake a critical review of the performance of my Government during its first year in office and to make such changes as are necessary in order to fulfill the mandate given to us by you, the citizens on May 24th 2010.
Performance reviews are routine in determining both individual and organizational performance. It is no different for my government and for Members of my Cabinet.
In fact, I have often remarked that my government is a performance driven one responsive to the needs of the public, and as such, during the first year
I emphasized both service to the people, action and delivery.
This government came into office amidst extremely high expectations on the part of our citizens for a type of governance and management that is sensitive to their needs and more significantly adopts plans and programs which solve their problems.
At the time of the formation of my Cabinet very few of my Ministers had the benefit of serving in Government and in Cabinet or had done so a long time ago.
Despite this, and the existence of the Ministerial “learning curve”, together with the need to build trust with the public service and to have the public service adapt to the culture of high performance expected of my government, the consensus by way of our achievements is that we have done well in our first year as a government.
We are aware however of the need to do better!
We know that our citizens expect more given the extent to which they have been denied the quality of life which an economy like Trinidad and Tobago should have provided during the years of plenty.
It is in response to fulfilling these expectations, that I have undertaken a review of portfolios and have made certain changes. These changes in which some Ministers will be reassigned to new responsibilities, is by no means a reflection of their competence.
It is rather a more effective alignment of competencies to positions where they will be more effective.
I value and applaud their efforts in the particular Ministries where they served and assure them of my continuing support as we work together for the benefit of our country.
At the same time, I expect that those who now hold these portfolios will be dedicated to excellence, high performance and delivery.
As Prime Minister and as the “CEO” of the Cabinet, I am committed to the values of efficiency or value for money, effectiveness (getting the job done well and on time) integrity, responsiveness, service excellence, a caring attitude, fairness and equal treatment in the conduct of the business of government.
I expect all members of my government will be so guided.
Realignment of portfolios is common after a year in government.
In this government, it was also obvious that certain Ministries had responsibilities which were not in keeping with their core business. of those Ministries.
This created duplication and an inefficient use of both human and material resources.
I have also sought to correct as far as possible these anomalies.
I believe that such changes will improve both governance and quality of service delivered.
In making changes, however, I am moved by the spirit of cooperation and understanding by the Members of my Cabinet, particularly those who were directly affected, a testimony to their commitment to team and to the higher vision of the government which is the satisfaction of the people.
I am also gratified by the high level of cooperation and understanding which I have received in this exercise from my fellow leaders in the People’s Partnership, and for which I thank them.
In light of what I have established as the focus of the government and to fulfil the mandate given to us, I wish to announce the following major changes to my Cabinet.
CHANGES TO BE MADE
(i) The creation of a new Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development and the Appointment of Ms. Verna St Rose Greaves as a Senator and Minister of this Ministry and also to the Appointment of the Honourable Ms. Ramona Ramdial, MP, as Minister in this Ministry
(ii) Secondly, the creation of a Ministry of Transport and the appointment of Mr. Devant Maharaj as a Senator and Minister of this Ministry
(a) The assignment of the Information Portfolio to a Ministry now to be known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications with the appointment of Ms. Nicole Dyer-Griffith as a Senator and Parliamentary Secretary in this Ministry; Minister the Honourable Surujrattan Rambachan, MP, will be appointed as Minister of this Ministry
(b) The appointment of Dr. the Honourable Fuad Khan, as Minister of Health
(c) The appointment of the Honourable Ms.Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, as the Minister of Public Administration
(d) The appointment of Senator the Honourable Mr. Kevin Ramnarine as Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs
(e) The appointment of Senator the Honourable Mr. Embau Moheni as Minister in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism
(f) The appointment of the Honourable Mr. Rudranath Indarsingh, as Minister in the Ministry of Local Government
(g) The appointment of the Honourable Ms. Nela Khan, as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government
(h) The appointment of Dr. the Honourable Delmon Baker, as Minister in the Ministry of Finance
(i) The appointment of the Honourable Mr. Colin Partap, as Minister in the Ministry of National Security
(j) The appointment of Mr. Terrance Baynes as a Senator
(k) The nomination of the Honourable Mr. Jairam Seemungal, as Deputy Speaker of the House
(l) The assignment of responsibility as Leader of Senate Business to Senator the Honourable Mr. Emmanuel George
My Fellow Citizens The role of a Prime Minister is to govern in the best interest of the people.
Not every need can be met in the short term, since resources are never infinite and hence prioritization of projects and programs of work is a necessity.
I have always maintained in answer to my philosophy of leadership, that I listen before leading, that I try as far as possible to build a healthy consensus with respect to decision making.
Thus far as Prime Minister, I believe that I have sought to live faithfully to this my espoused philosophy.
I know however final decision making is my responsibility.
It is for this reason that I try to be very careful in the decisions I make, sometimes taking a bit more time so to do.
It is difficult in government to reverse a decision and as such one has to be extremely cautious, especially in a complex and plural society like Trinidad and Tobago, where the concerns of so many different interests have to balance in the course of decision making.
I have to the best of my ability tried to achieve this in my decisions including the changes I have announced.
As Prime Minister, I have never feared admitting where I have erred. It is part of my desire to recognize the need for transparency in government and of being human.
Only God doesn’t make mistakes.
Without harping on the issues of the past or on the quality of management of the economy under the previous regime, my government’s inheritance included a depleted treasury, poor level of citizen security, the problems surrounding CLICO and HCU, corruption and wastage, a demoralized public service and a population whose basic needs for a better quality of life remained an elusive dream.
Despite the inheritance, we are committed to bring about the change people desire.
The fair minded amongst us will admit on reflection that the process of change has indeed begun.
As your elected government, one to whom you gave a Constitutional majority, we will not shirk from our responsibilities.
We will see it as our national duty, the need to solve your problems, to achieve citizen security, to build a society where every creed and race find an equal place, where discipline tolerance and production will not only be our watchwords but will manifest in our daily activities and relationships, where the spirit of neighbourliness would re-emerge and a strong sense of community will again dominate our national consciousness, and where we would share each other’s’ cultural space and an improved understanding would provide the platform for national harmony and peace.
We have a challenging journey ahead of us together.
The next session of Parliament begins tomorrow with a full ceremonial opening.
It will be the last ceremonial opening in the Red House before the Parliament building is fully restored.
Preparations have already begun for the 2011 budget.
Your government will proceed to work at high intensity on all fronts.
Our focus will now be directed to improving the delivery of goods and services to you, the people; growing the economy; attracting investments and stimulating business; creating jobs and keeping the cost of living under control.
In addition, we want to strengthen and boost our social infrastructure and educate and train our people for a modern, thriving economy.
The gains we have made in containing crime, we will consolidate.
Our objective will be to continue to reduce the number of murders and other violent crimes as well as to contain other minor offences.
Your government is committed to serving you, listening to you and responding to you.
As we usher in tomorrow, I pledge on behalf of my government, to collectively redouble our efforts in the interest of our great nation, Trinidad and Tobago.
I thank you
May God continue to bless each of you and may God bless our nation.