Trinidad and Tobago new cabinet ‘same ole, same ole’

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Dear Sir

The swearing-in of prime minister Dr Keith Rowley’s cabinet was a chance for the Dr Rowley administration to offer some new hope to the citizens. After five years of suffering the people of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Rowley repackaged and repurposed his old team of incompetent ministers and, added some re-cycled ones, with the task to clean up their own mistakes of the past five years.

Sadly, no new hope was offered. Nonetheless, I wish them well in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

The reappointment of Stuart Young as minister of national security has to be one of the biggest slap in the faces of the people of Trinidad and Tobago after he sat by and did nothing to stop the skyrocketing crime rate, which, under his watch, reached the highest in decades.

Moreover, our country has witnessed more deaths from crime under his watch than under COVID-19. Add to that the oxymoron of the appointment of an elderly hind as minister of youth development.

It was also reckless of the office of the prime minister to suggest that some of the ministers appointed are ‘supporting ministers’ who may or may not attend Cabinet meetings.

There is simply no provision in the Constitution or convention which allows for the appointment of ministers who are not members of the Cabinet or which allows some ministers to attend Cabinet ‘as required’ as was stated by Dr Rowley.

To conduct a Cabinet like this, as was suggested by the office of the prime minister is illegal, irrational, unlawful and contrary to our Republican Constitution.

We have no confidence in the ability of this reconstituted Cabinet to take our country out of the crisis they put us in. Our prospects of a brighter future have been severely narrowed.

With the reappointment of major ministerial portfolios such as finance, attorney general and national security, one now wonders who they will continue to blame for their failures as they have been in office for the past five years.

It is clear that the prime minister intends to continue with the failed policies of the previous term he led. The opposition United National Congress (UNC) will not sit idly by and allow Dr Rowley, Peoples National Movement (PNM) to conduct the business of the people unchecked. We will relentlessly hold the Government accountable to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

In the short, to medium term, we hope that this “new” band of ministers can move swiftly to adequately address the basic issues plaguing the population such as unemployment, crime, infrastructural decay, and the decline of the energy sector. In the past five years, we saw negligible improvement in these sectors, and we can only hope that some work will be done for the benefit of all Trinibagonians in the coming months.

There will be no honeymoon period for this incarnation of the Dr Rowley regime. They must get down to doing the work of the people immediately.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP 

Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC), and Leader of the Opposition, Trinidad and Tobago.

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