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Jun 8, 2007

P.M. defends latest Cabinet shuffle

Story PictureFor the first time since his latest and most dramatic cabinet reshuffle, this morning Prime Minister Said Musa explained why Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde are no longer in his Cabinet and gave the rationale behind the resignation of the Deputy Prime Minister. Appearing on Love F.M.’s Morning Show, the P.M. told hosts Carmen Barrow and Rene Villanueva that Espat and Hyde were not re-invited to Cabinet because they did not vote against an Opposition motion. As for the departure of the Deputy Prime Minister, P.M. Musa says he wanted John Briceño to have more time to campaign in the run up to national elections.

Prime Minister Said Musa
“First of all, I fired no one who disagreed with me on the U.H.S. motion; that’s the first thing I want to make clear. The second is this, that the reason why Minister Cordel Hyde and Minister Mark Espat were not invited to remain in Cabinet is because they absented themselves from a motion, nothing really directly to do—it was not the U.H.S. motion, it was a motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition which in effect was criticising the Prime Minister and the conduct of the Prime Minister and the Government. In essence, it was a vote he was trying to achieve, a vote of no confidence in the Government. It was a very important motion that he moved and we took a decision in Cabinet, all of us that we would vote against that motion, indeed it even went to the caucus and there the caucus as well decided that we would all vote against that motion. It is okay for back benchers to defy because that is their prerogative, but it is not okay for Cabinet ministers to defy a decision of the Cabinet. That goes against the very fundamental principle of Cabinet’s collective responsibility.”

“In the case of the Deputy Prime Minister, I did not fire him; he chose to resign from the Cabinet. In fact, when I met with him I invited him to remain as the Deputy Prime Minister and to take a different portfolio in the Cabinet. I invited him to be the deputy prime minister and the minister of national development and defence. I felt, and people have been enquiring as to what was my motive, I felt that with nine months to go before a general election, that it’s important that all of us should devote more time in our constituencies. We have a lot of political work to do. The Ministry of Natural Resources is not only the biggest ministry in the government; it is also the most strenuous. We are dealing with land claims by people, thousands of people who want everyday to get their titles. We’re dealing with matters of survey, we’re dealing with matters of forestry, we’re dealing with matters of geology, the oil industry, and of course the most important thing too, we’re dealing with the environment which is always a very contentious, controversial issue. But I would say the most controversial part of the ministry is this whole question of land and who gets land. You listen to your talk shows and you will see that land is one of most controversial and major issues in our country and I felt that it’s important for the Deputy Prime Minister, as indeed for other ministers, for us all to devote more time in our constituencies and I chose to offer him the Ministry of National Development and Defence. Now you might say that is a big ministry too, of course it is, it’s a very important ministry, but it’s not as strenuous and Lands Department, as the Ministry of Natural Resources. Why I say that, because when you analyse it, National Development is dealing with things like Basic Needs Trust Fund, the Social Investment Fund, but all these things have well organised institutions and all it requires is for the policy to be implemented, which is what a minister is there for and you have your organs to carry out the policy like the social investment fund, very well organised institution with a good board. You have of course dealing with the World Bank, the I.M.F., the C.D.B., and the I.D.B., various international institutions. But there again you have technicians to assist you with that and really the minister has very little input except when it comes to the policy discussions. In others words, I am saying a very important ministry, particularly the whole question of investment, BELTRAIDE and all that, but there you have a system in place, a well organised system that can do the work, the civil service, the public officers and so on. And that is why I felt that it was the proper ministry to offer the Deputy Prime Minister. He chose not to accept.”

Rene Villanueva
“What reason did he give you for not accepting prime minister?”

Prime Minister Said Musa
“The reason the gave me was that he had made up his mind that he wanted to go full time into his constituency and to do his political work.”

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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