Saturday, January 08, 2011

The New Cabinet: Serious people for serious times

Author: ULP View Published: 01/06/2011
Implementation Time

The general of elections of 2010 has ended, and now it’s time to settle down to administer the affairs of the country called St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Over the last five days, top civil servants and their ministers have been meeting with the Ministry of Finance, to prepare the estimates of revenue and expenditure that will form the integral part of the budget for the year 2011. 

Once this is completed and the document is approved by the country’s Parliament, then it’s time to begin implementing the ten point plan that the ULP has advocated during the election campaign, and which the people of this country approved. This is where the role of the Cabinet becomes a critical cog in the development process. There are many theories about the role of the Cabinet in a modern day government; but even with this, and even where the role is clear, it is very important that Cabinet comprise persons with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibility, and with the necessary vision, drive and management capacity to take the development process forward.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet has the experienced of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at its head, and the consensus is that there is no better person at this time, to lead the Cabinet, and by extension the country.
The experienced faces of Girlyn Miguel, Clayton Burgin and Montgomery Daniel are still in the Cabinet. Girlyn Miguel has a new role as Deputy Prime Minister, and Montgomery Daniel has taken on the new portfolio of Rural Transformation. Their ministries will be strengthened with the addition of critical public service managers.

Dr. Douglas Slater is the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and is ideally suited for this job, given the strategies that the ULP administration has embarked upon, and will continue to implement. The experience of Julian Francis, that Titan of organizational skills, is still available to the Cabinet. He is the Minister of Works and will play a vital role in the development of the infrastructure of the country. Saboto Ceasar, having cut his eye teeth in the Ministry of Housing, is ready to take on the important portfolios of tourism and industry.

So the issue of the loss of experience has been addressed. But there is a new dimension to the Cabinet that has escaped most people. It relates to the youthfulness and the diverse nature of its composition.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has added persons to the cabinet who have a strong community focus, with strong links to various sectors in the society. First there is Cecil “CES” Mc Kie, a man with vision, energy and focus, a strong community man with tremendous private sector focus. Here is a man who believes in getting things down, in the completion of tasks. He is the new Minister of Health at a time when the country has a series of projects aimed at improving the health services for Vincentians. Under the EDF10, some 35 million EC dollars worth of projects will be implemented, a process that will require drive, energy, focus, and attention to detail and time lines. All these are strong points of the character of Ces Mc Kie.

Then there is Maxwell Charles, a devout Christian, a former teacher, career diplomat, and a man with strong links to his community. Maxwell Charles will administer the ministry of national reconciliation, a new portfolio that is in keeping with the drive by the ULP, to unite the nation, after a divisive general election. He will also have the portfolios of information, labour, the public service and ecclesiastical affairs.

Frederick Stephenson is the other minister who will add a new dimension to the Cabinet. He is the minister of social development, culture, sports, youth affairs, national mobilisation, the family and persons with disabilities. Frederick Stephenson is a kind and gentle person with a strong drive to excel, and a focus on developing the community. He will build on the strong legacy left by Rene Baptiste, Mike Browne and Selman Walters. Great things are expected from this man.

Senator Elvis Charles is a Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and he will be a member of the Cabinet, bringing more drive, energy and focus to the government.


Lest we forget, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves still has in an advisory capacity, the person of Sir Vincent Beache. Sir Vincent, with his years of experience, will guide the new members, and will be a critical source that they can use for their development. In addition, the experience of Dr. Jerrol Thompson will be a phone call away, as he will be a director of telecommunications and special projects in the office of the Prime Minister, with emphasis on telecommunications. Michelle Fife, Legal Adviser in Foreign Affairs on Treaties, adds to the Ministry.

The ULP administration has asked Vincentians to own the government. This means that, among other things, the government and the people must be in communion with each other. The new ULP MPs like Maxwell Charles, Cecil Mc Kie, Frederick Stephenson and Saboto Ceasar, have very strong links to their communities.

Constituency Reports

But it is important here to remember the words of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, when he addressed the Swearing-in Ceremony of the new Cabinet, at Layou on December 19th 2010.

“I have already requested of all the Ministers, Senators, and Care-Takers of constituencies that they must be in on-going communion with the people and attend in the most optimal manner to the needs of the communities which they serve.  I shall again insist on constituency reports to complement the ministerial reports.  The exercise of representing people is grounded in government and politics.  We must listen more attentively to the people and act always in their interest.  We must always demonstrate our love for, and commitment to, the people.You, the people, who owned the campaign, who owned the vote, must now own the government.  Please possess it; it belongs to you and your neighbour; it is inclusive and is the instrument to serve all Vincentians.  I shall insist on the building of community structures to ensure that you own the government”.

Vincentians can be confident that this new Cabinet has all the required resources to execute the mandate given to the ULP at the December 13th 2010 general elections.