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Sep 9, 1998

Gov’t appoints permanent secretaries, heads of statutory bodies

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Less than two weeks into its new term of office the government of Prime Minister Said Musa is slowly getting its house in order. Making good on its pre-election promise to brief the press following each session of Cabinet, that body’s secretary this morning met with journalists in Belmopan to discuss a number of new appointments as well as what appears to be the new administration’s first financial crisis. Patrick Jones reports.

Cabinet Secretary Robert Leslie was as informative as a code of confidentially allowed him to be in reporting to the media, the decisions coming out of Tuesday’s first meeting of the new Cabinet. Among them were the Prime Minister’s appointments to statutory bodies and government departments as well as the deployment of permanent secretaries to the various ministries. Leslie said that during yesterday’s meeting, Budget Planning and Management Minister Ralph Fonseca reported to the Prime Minister on the state of public finances. In that report, Fonseca told Cabinet that the departing government had left the financial cupboard nearly bare.

Robert Leslie, Cabinet Secretary

“All I am able to say at this time is that as of the twenty-seventh of August, 1998, government’s overdraft position at the Central Bank of Belize stood at fifty-one point seven million dollars. That’s government’s overdraft position. It means that we are four point seven million dollars below the statutory ceiling.”

That ceiling according to Financial Secretary Jaime Alpuche is fifty-six point four million dollars. Although it’s not an enviable position to be in, Alpuche says there have been worst cases in past years. The Cabinet Secretary said that to improve the position of the public purse, some emergency measures will have to be taken although none were proposed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. Prime Minister Said Musa then announced that he had named the elected representatives who did not get Cabinet posts to head the different House Committees which, according to the P.U.P. manifesto will be given expanded oversight powers.

Corozal Bay’s Vildo Marin will head the Finance and Economic Development Committee. Toledo East’s Mike Espat will chair the Public Utilities, Transport and Communications Committee. Dr. Gregorio Garcia will chair the Health and Human Development Committee, while Doctor Ted Aranda was put in charge of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee. Remijio Montejo is chairman of the Education and Housing Committee. Dave Burgos heads the Works Committee. Valdemar Castillo is chairman of the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee. Salus Lizama is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. Ainslie Leslie, Agriculture and Fisheries, Opposition Leader Dean Barrow will name the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and Patty Arceo will chair the Tourism and Environment Committee.

Leslie told reporters that the Standing Orders will be amended at the first business session of the House of Representatives, to give these chairpersons the oversight powers that they were promised.

Robert Leslie

“We have always had House of Representatives Committees and there have been meetings with members of the public. In this administration, the House of Representatives Committees will be given oversight powers. It means that the chairpersons and members of these committees will have the responsibility to oversee the work of government departments and ministries.”

Except for a couple of new additions, the pool of Permanent Secretaries was unchanged.

Robert Leslie

“Jaime Alpuche – Financial Secretary; David Gibson – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; David Aguilar – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment; Brigadier General Allan Usher – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security and Immigration, National Security Coordinator; Joseph Waight – Deputy Financial Secretary; Gerald Henry – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works; Crescencio Sosa – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget Planning and Management; Yvonne Hyde – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development; Roy Bowen – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Human Development, Women and Youth; Rodney Neal – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce; Dr. Victor Gonzalez – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities, Transport and Communications; Dr. Gregorio Pott – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; Wayne Usher – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sugar Industry, Local Government and Latin American Affairs; J. Orlando Puga – Permanent Secretary, Planning, Ministry of Budget Planning and Management; Dr. Dorian Barrow – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports; Marion McNab – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting; Lindsay Belisle – Permanent Secretary, Project Management, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment; Carlos Perdomo – Permanent Secretary, Center for Employment Training; Windell Parham – acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; Roy Cayetano, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development and Culture; Matilda Chavarria – acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Public Service.”

To round off the top postings in the public service, Paulino Castellanos is now the head of the Immigration and Nationality Department while Clifford Slusher goes back to being the Director of Telecommunications. Dr. Dennis Hoy is the new Director of Health Services and Dr. John Waight has been confirmed to the post as Medical Chief of Staff at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. These appointments are with effect from September first. Patrick Jones for News Five.

Key appointments to chair statutory bodies were also announced today. They include Dr. Amin Hegar to head the Airports Authority, Kay Menzies at the Port and her father Karl to chair B.E.L. Attorney Lisa Shoman will oversee B.T.L., Ray Lightburn gets WASA, former minister Glenn Godfrey leads D.F.C., while representative Pino Cawich will be watching over Recondev. Another elected representative to head a statutory body will be Patty Arceo at the Tourist Board. Social Security will be headed by Corozal’s Ediberto Mai and Belize City’s Marshall Nuñez will chair the National Sports Council. Future Cabinet press briefings will be held each Wednesday morning in Belize City, hosted by Chief of Staff Godfrey Smith.

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