Members of the Cabinet (photo courtesy Ruben Campos)
The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow held a press conference on Tuesday, March 13th in Belmopan City where he formally announced to the nation his selection of Cabinet Ministers. As he had pointed out at a press conference he held on Thursday March 8th, the Cabinet was to have been composed of no more than 2/3 of the elected area representatives. Four other ministers would have been brought up through the Senate. He took the long weekend to ponder his appointments and at the end of his contemplations, he came up with quite a remarkable list of individuals, who will be the government’s executive. At the end of his selection process the PM had come up with a historic Cabinet that saw 4 un-elected ministers becoming a part of the executive. All those who we spoke to agreed that this is the first time such a move has been made.
Before he introduced the ministers, he explained that he could have gone the traditional route in selecting his ministers; he said that he could have gone to the UDP party activists but instead chose to look for the best talent, brain power and expertise that was available to him. In so doing, he would be able to “harness all skills available to make the best government possible.” And in his selection, the PM admittedly recognized that there may be some party supporters who would “feel a little hard done” by the decision. He nonetheless stuck to his decision to create a mix of elected representatives and Senator-Ministers, who would have the technical expertise to be able to conduct the government business. He concluded by stating that he has complete support of all elected representatives in his decision.
In his announcement, 11 elected representatives were then formally recognized as full ministers while 6 became ministers of state in various ministries (see page 29). The four Senator-Ministers are Liselle Alamilla, who picked up the portfolios of Forestry, Fisheries, Sustainable Development and Indigenous people. Joy Grant received the newly created ministry of Energy, Science and Technology, Geology and Petroleum and the PUC. Godwin Hulse was given the Ministry of Labor and Local Government, Rural Development and NEMO. Rounding up the Senator-Ministers list was Charles Gibson, who received the Ministry of the Public Service.
Notable changes within existing ministers were moves where the Ministry of Works was passed over to Hon. Rene Montero, the Ministry of National Security going to Hon. John Saldivar, and the Ministry of Agriculture going to Hon. Gaspar Vega.
While there was major changes there were also instances where there were none: those are in the Ministry of Health which was retained by Hon. Pablo Marin and Ministry of Housing which was retained by Hon. Michael Finnegan. Hon. Patrick Faber also kept the Ministry of Education and Youth and had the portfolio of Sports added on.
A particularly interesting announcement was that Ministers of State would hold working portfolios where they would be given specific areas to work on.
Other announcements include the naming of Carlos Perdomo as the Cabinet Secretary; Speaker of the House, Michael Peyrefitte and Mark Pech as the President of the Senate.