Meet Your Ministers
On Friday night, we told you who was who in the new Briceno cabinet - in terms of portfolio assignments.
Well, this morning at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel - the bible got more hands on it than at a Sunday sermon, as 17 Ministers, 7 ministers of state and the Attorney General were sworn in by the Governor-General.
It wasn't intended as a press event per se, and that's why it was carried live on the Government's Press Office's Facebook page, but the media still crashed the swearing in session to talk to the new ministers, these men and women who will dominate the national discourse and national life for the next five years.
Here's what a few of them had to say about what they plan to do:
Hon. Cordel Hyde - DPM/Minister of Natural Resources
"It's been a long, long journey. 13 years is a mighty long time. When we first started out in opposition, you're hopeful. You have no idea how long it will be, and if anyone would have said that it would take 13, I'd have to think long and hard. But, we're here, through the grace of God, and through the love and support of the people of Lake Independence."
"They stand strong with me through rough, rough times, through times that would have broken anybody else."
"Our focus will be on people who don't have any land, to ensure that they get a piece of this jewel because the reality is that land is a finite resource. There's only so much land, and after the scavenging and skullduggery of the last 13 years, we have no idea what's there."
Hon. Kevin Bernard - Minister of Youths, Sports & E-Governance
"We cannot hear that our youths are our future, but yet, we don't do anything to uplift our young people, to put in the programs and policies that will ensure that we get them out of crime, but more into positive activities. Our sporting areas need to be enhanced. We need to ensure that it is involved in the school curriculum. So, we will have to work closely with the Ministry of Education as well."
"Your predecessor, he was - unfortunately, people were very unkind to him, being that his profession was not related to health. And certainly, we know you as a gentleman of the law. Going into this, having to lead a ministry that is science-based, how are you going to handle that?"
Hon. Michel Chebat - Ministry of Health & Wellness
"Well, we have formed a team of medical advisors, who will be guiding us every step of the way. We understand that our discipline is in law, but that does not handicap us in any way. As a matter of fact, I think it puts us in a good position. I think it will bring the discipline that the ministry needs, in terms of operation, in terms of administration, and so that is exactly what we intend to be. And, we know that with the help of the advisors we've put together, we'll be able to marshal an effective and efficient Ministry of Health."
"You're [thd tourism minister, but would you really hope that down the road, that the PUP puts in a strategy that will see a new economy arise out of other different industries growing up?"
Hon. Anthony Mahler - Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations
"I totally believe in diversification. You can't put your eggs in one basket. We don't want to see tourism go down. We want to see tourism continue to rise, but we want the other important industries to rise as well."
Hon. Julius Espat - Minister of Infrastructure Dev. & Housing
"The report that we got is [that] the Ministry has not functioned for 12 years. And so looking at the bright side, it gives us an opportunity to make sure that it works. It is in line with my career as a professional, so, it will be a little bit easier to chart it forward. I plan to sit with all the organization, the architect association, the engineers association, the contractors association, the planner - to get an idea from them what the vision. We have a mandate from the prime minister to start building houses, and so that will be one of the first things we need to look at."
Hon. Orlando Habet - Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management
"How can we increase the funding available for disaster management? Most of the time, funding is assigned based on the result of the disaster, after the hurricane has passed. But, we need to change that way of doing things. We need to have a fund specifically for that, and it is not spent in one year, then it can flow over into the next year so that you can increase that funding. And I believe that this funding if the prime minister can agree, is something that can be built upon. And so, you have a sort of revolving fund within that ministry."
Hon. Andre Perez - Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation
"The blue economy, of course, is all exciting. It entails everything that is in the marine reserve. Everything that pertains to fisheries - fisheries is just 1 part of it. We're talking about harnessing solar energy. We're talking about putting it together, and we're taking it to another level to find that equilibrium between protecting our environment, but at the same time, growing our economy, and growing sustainably as well."
Hon. Kareem Musa - Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries
"I have been appointed by the Prime Minister as the minister of police. That includes not just the police department. It covers also forensics. It's covers prisons and the prison system. It covers narcotics control. It covers as well - I believe firearms, of course, falling under the police. And so, the ministry of national security has been divided, so to speak. So we now have the Honorable Florencio Marin and the Honorable Oscar Mira serving as ministers in the ministry responsible for the defence of our country. In addition to the minister of police, minister of home affairs, I am also the minister of new growth industries and you may be asking yourself what is new growth industries. Well, quite frankly as you know a growth industry is a developing industry that has seen expansion that has seen growth. In the past we had like the shrimp farms, in the country we had fish farming Tilapia farming - all of these industries are growth industries and in the great first world countries we see where there is more exploration of the use of hemp, the use of marijuana - these are new growth industries in those countries and we need to see where we stand in this world. Yes it might be a very controversial issue, but we have time now to set up the proper structure so that we can formalize."
Hon. Henry Charles Usher - Minister of Public Service, Constitutional & Political Reform
"It is a very broad-based portfolio; the ministry of the public service is an important one. We all know that reform is needed throughout the public service and really if the government or the party wants to get any of our planbelize agenda items done we need to have reform. I'm happy that the prime minister has the faith in me to have given me this portfolio including the constitutional and political reform portfolios, because it's something I believe in, it's something that the people have been talking about asking for for a number of years and we need to make sure that we put in place the right reforms, the right measures so that our system works on behalf of the people."
"When does day 1 begin for you?"
Hon. Rodwell Ferguson - Minister of Public Utilities & Logistics
"I believe day 1 begins tomorrow, because today is almost completed and I think at some point in time we will have cabinet. I haven't gotten the schedule yet, but sometime today. And so tomorrow I will have to get into the ministry to understand what it is all about. But first of all I would like to thank our new prime minister for having the confidence to place such a huge ministry under my control. I'll do my best to make sure that I do it to the best of my ability. I don't want to let down my prime minister. I want him to shine, I want him to look good. So tomorrow when I take over I will know exactly what the ministry entails. We have 3 major utilities company in Belize, we have BEL, BTL and BWS, so I'm totally responsible to make sure that those companies operate, make sure they strive, make sure the Belizean people benefit while they are here in Belize operating."
Hon. Ramon "Monchi" Cervantez - Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade & Immigration
"It is a very substantial ministry portfolio and I am happy to be working along with Prime Minister Briceno's cabinet and taking our country forward. It is a great opportunity to put my skills and what I have learned my knowledge, my education, my experiences that I have acquired during this lifetime to good use to move this country forward for the interest of all."