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Jun 13, 2018

Minister Sedi Elrington Says Latest Cabinet Reshuffle is to Ensure Expediency at Lands Department

Tuesday’s announcement of yet another reshuffling of ministerial portfolios prompted by a sudden change in the top layer in the Ministry of Natural Resources is being met with serious concerns.  It is the fourth re-organization of Cabinet since the departure of former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega who demitted office amid a land scandal involving his son, Andre Vega, in October 2016.  Since then, the ministry which has been called a hot bed of corruption, by no less than the Prime Minister, has been headed by a number of ministers, and until Tuesday by Senator Carla Barnett.  Her abrupt exit, announced in an unusual worded release, has raised a host of questions. Barnett is being replaced by Corozal North’s Hugo Patt, a fairly junior minister who is now at the head of the second most powerful ministry which until Vega, was usually reserved for very senior ministers such as the deputy prime ministers.  Today, when we caught up with Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington, he told us that the problems at the ministry are beyond the ministers.

 

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“We are trying to see how we can expedite and enhance the service in the Ministry of Natural Resources.  My own personal view is that that problem there is beyond any particular minister.  It’s a systemic problem.  It’s a problem which not affects the Ministry of Natural Resources but many other ministries.  It’s very difficult to get service in the country, good, efficient, competent service.  Very, very difficult and becoming harder by the day.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“May I respectfully interject to say that the impression given by this recent shuffle, in respect of the Ministry of Natural Resources, is that it’s a trial and error process, it being the fourth government minister being placed to oversee that particular department.  Might this not have been something that could have been addressed with some permanency a long time ago as opposed to the impression that we’re moving along unsteady?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“My view is that we really have a crisis in terms of our human capital.  There is nothing a minister can do in a ministry, unless the public officers who are in that ministry function efficiently and properly.”

 

Reporter

“But sir, respectfully, you have Dr. Carla Barnett who, from all appearances, is a very seasoned and intelligent and particularly honest individual in a place that the prime minister has described as a hotbed of corruption.  Why move somebody like that?  What is the wisdom in trying to move somebody like that when you’re trying to clean up an area or a part of the government’s service that is perceived as dishonest?”

 

Wilfred Elrington

“The removal of Dr. Carla Barnett doesn’t reflect in my view on her honesty at all.  It is that they are, notwithstanding the fact that she is there, there are continuing cries that people are not being served, you know, and politicians respond to that; whether it’s the prime minister or any ordinary politician.”

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