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Oct 5, 1999

A new Attorney General as the Cabinet gets an adjustment

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The long awaited changes in Cabinet were announced today and while one could argue over whether it was a reshuffle or — as government said — an adjustment, there will be some new faces with new responsibilities in Belmopan. Although there was some minor shifting of portfolios the major moves numbered four. The first is the elevation of former Chief of Staff Godfrey Smith to the Cabinet as Attorney General, with the result that former Attorney General Dickie Bradley is left with Housing, Urban Renewal and the newly relocated portfolio of Home Affairs. The biggest loser of the day, if there was one, was former Health Minister Servulo Baeza, who was stripped of the Health Ministry in favor of a lesser post as Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development. Joining him as a second Minister of State is San Pedro’s Patty Arceo who was lifted from the backbenches to join the Ministry of Industry. For the record here is the new lineup in the nation’s capital.

Said Musa remains as Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Finance. Johnny Briceño keeps the job as Deputy P.M., Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment while receiving a bonus in the portfolio for Industry which was shifted from Joe Coye.

Max Samuels retains Public Utilities, Energy and Communications but loses the portfolio for Transport. Jorge Espat stands pat with National Security and Immigration as does Ralph Fonseca with Budget Planning, Economic Development, Investment and Trade.

Senior Minister George Price remains just that while Joe Coye adds the portfolios of Health and Civil Society to his pre-existing Public Services and Labor. He does lose the portfolio for Industry.

Henry Canton also gains some new responsibilities as the Minister of Works also becomes Minister of Transport, Citrus and Banana Industries. Florencio Marin’s duties remain unchanged with responsibility for Sugar, Local Government and Latin America…

while Dolores Balderamos Garcia loses responsibility for Youth, keeping Human Development and Women.

Dan Silva keeps his jobs in Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives… while Mark Espat exchanges Information for Youth, keeping Tourism. Cordel Hyde sees no change from Education and Sports… while Marcial Mes similarly holds on to Rural Development and Culture.

Dickie Bradley loses the Attorney Generalship, retaining Housing and Urban Renewal, with Home Affairs, namely the fire service, thrown in for good measure. The only new addition to the Cabinet is Godfrey Smith as Attorney General, with the added responsibility for Information. Rounding out the changes are Ministers of State Servulo Baeza and Patty Arceo.

There are two questions which arise over the new appointments. The first is that constitutionally for Godfrey Smith to be named a Minister he must first be appointed to the Senate. And for that to happen an existing Senator must first lose his or her job. That distinction has gone to Senator Francis Castillo of Dangriga. The second issue is one of semantics and mathematics, that is… are the two new Ministers of State considered members of Cabinet? If they are then the P.U.P. has violated its election pledge to hold down the size of Cabinet, as eighteen exceeds by one the self proclaimed upper limit of two-thirds the number of government representatives in the House. Official comment on this question has been scarce but the new attorney general informs us that the two new Ministers of State will not be considered of Cabinet rank and they will not sit in on Cabinet sessions. As to the reasons behind the Cabinet realignment an official press release says that it is part of an overall plan to modernize the public service and enhance the delivery of services to the people of Belize.


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