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Jul 14, 2005

Latest Cabinet shuffle reduces number of ministries

A Cabinet shuffle has been widely anticipated for a number of weeks, and while today’s new alignment–announced first in the Belize Times–was not as radical as expected, there are a few interesting changes.

Let’s begin with the losers. Servulo Baeza has been stripped of the little he had–housing–but remains in Cabinet as a minister without portfolio assigned to the Deputy Prime Minister. A similar fate awaits Marcial Mes. The Toledo West representative, who formerly held sway over Local Government, Rural Development and Labour, loses these responsibilities and also becomes a minister without portfolio, attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. It is not known if the two new ministers without portfolio will retain their ministerial salaries and perks despite having greatly reduced responsibilities.

As for the remaining nine members of the executive branch, Prime Minister Said Musa gives up the Defence portfolio, but regains Public Service and National Development, the latter from his close friend Assad Shoman who leaves Cabinet for the domestic tranquillity of our embassy in Cuba and the Guatemalan claim.

Meanwhile, Deputy P.M. Johnny Briceño retains Natural Resources and Environment, while adding Local Government.

Vildo Marin emerges as a big winner with the addition of Defence and Labour to his Health responsibilities, while losing the relatively minor Commerce, Industry and Communications.

Sylvia Flores adds responsibility for Housing to her Human Development portfolio.

Ralph Fonseca appears to have lost Investment, but gains Public Utilities, all the while holding on to Home Affairs.

Similarly, Works minister Jose Coye loses Public Service but gains Communications.

The portfolios assigned to Godfrey Smith, Francis Fonseca, and Mike Espat remain unchanged.

On the Minister of State level, Briceño and Coye maintain their oddball status in the Ministry of Finance, while five P.U.P. backbenchers have been given junior posts next to full time ministers. They are Rodwell Ferguson, who will understudy Francis Fonseca; Mario Castellanos teaming with Godfrey Smith; Dave Burgos working with Mike Espat; Ainslie Leslie with Jose Coye; and Ismael Cal as second fiddle to Ralph Fonseca.

The official explanation for the shuffle is to “rationalise portfolio responsibilities and streamline the operations of government.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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