It?s insulting to retain PNM?s Darryl Smith in Government by merely shifting him to the Housing Ministry.
That?s the view of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who said Prime Minister Keith Rowley should have fired Smith outright and demanded his resignation from PNM?s Diego Martin Central constituency.
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?Outrageous and insulting to the people of this country – Prime Minister Keith Rowley should pick up his pack of jokers and go,? Persad- Bissessar stated.
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Persad-Bissessar and other Opposition MPs yesterday panned Rowley?s latest Cabinet reshuffle (see box) in which Smith was removed from the Sports Ministry and appointed a minister in the Housing Ministry.
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Smith also lost the Cabinet status he?s held since 2015 when he became Sport Minister
Former Public Administration and Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie, still overseas for medical attention, was also demoted to a minister in the Public Administration and Communications Ministry
Marlene McDonald, who was appointed Minister in Public Administration and Communication last month, is now the Minister there – and Cuffie?s boss
Ministers Shamfa Cudjoe and Randall Mitchell were also shifted from Tourism and Housing respectively. Cudjoe replaces Smith in Sport. Mitchell replaces her in Housing and Rowley, in addition to his duties as Prime Minister, will now also be the Housing Minister
Changes followed a day after last Sunday?s Express report on a witness statement from Smith?s personal assistant alleging sexual harassment. It?s alleged Smith?s unwanted advances to the former staffer resulting in a $150,000 settlement by the Ministry using taxpayers? money
The issue has been simmering since Opposition MP Barry Padarath raised questions on the details of the settlement. Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said it involved ?improper termination? and the settlement involved a non-disclosure agreement. Padarath insisted Government give the rank of the Ministry official involved. He said statements from other Sports quarters alleged it was Smith
Last Thursday, Rowley said he couldn?t comment on the issue since he was ?now? trying to find out what occurred. The employee?s sexual harassment claim was subsequently revealed
And following that, came Rowley?s reshuffle of the five Ministers ?and changes with his own portfolio?yesterday. Rowley advised President Paula-Mae Weekes to make the changes
Among changes, Rowley dropped the Public Administration and Communication Ministry which he?d held since Cuffie suffered a stroke last September
Rowley has now taken on the Housing and Urban Development portfolio – returning to the Housing Ministry he?d headed under the Manning PNM administration over 2003- 2007
As a result, Smith, demoted to a minister in Housing, is now working directly under Rowley?s supervision
When Smith was criticised in 2017 for a $92,000 bill for a three-night Magdalena Resort stay Tobago, Rowley had defended him ?and Cudjoe also under fire then for a $59,000 ?roaming? phone bill – as being young and requiring guidance
But Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar told reporters, ? In Smith?s case, the Prime Minister not only needs to fire Smith but demand his resignation from Diego Martin Central. Smith no longer has the moral authority to represent the mothers, sisters and daughters of Diego Martin Central. He should resign his seat. ?
?The Prime Minister has ignored the call of all right-minded citizens…newspaper reports have shown that Ministry funds were used to settle a case in which the allegations of sexual harassment were made against Smith,?
She said Rowley would not have time to perform his Prime Ministerial duties and run a mega-ministry like Housing and Urban Development.?
HISTORY OF CHANGES
Prime Minister Keith Rowley has made changes to his team every year since assuming office – the most, involving PNM?s Marlene McDonald
Yesterday?s latest changes involved reassigning: ?Darryl Smith as Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development; ? Shamfa Cudjoe as Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs; ?Randall Mitchell as Minister of Tourism; ? Revoking the appointment of Maxie Cuffie as Minister of Public Administration and Communications and reassigning Cuffie as Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications; ? Appointing Marlene Mc Donald as Minister of Public Administration and Communications. ? Revoking the Prime Minister?s assignment as Minister with responsibility for Public Administration and Communications, and in addition to his present duties as Prime Minister, appointing himself as Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Previous changes over 2016 and 2017 among Rowley?s team included removing McDonald from Housing in March 2016 following Integrity Commission and police probes on allegations including the Calabar Foundation. After being cleared on some allegations by the Commission she was appointed Public Utilities Minister in June 2016 and was promptly removed two days later after alleged gang leader Cedric ?Burkie? Burke attended her swearing-in function at President?s House, without formal invitation
At the start of last month McDonald was again appointed a minister in Public Administration and Communication. The Integrity Commission via March 7 letter indicated it had closed a probe concerning her. The Police probe is still on-going
Other Ministerial changes over 2016-17 have included:
(a) Stuart Young from the Attorney General?s office to the OPM; (b) Randall Mittchell from Public Administration to Housing. (c) Franklin Khan from Rural Development and Local Government to Energy; (d) Nicole Olivierre from the Energy Ministry, and later returning her as a Minister in that Ministry after Franklin Khan returned to work after heart surgery; (e) Kazim Hosein in Rural Development and Local Government; (f) Rohan Sinanan to Works and Transport; (g) Allyson West as a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, (h) Removing Senators Sarah Budu, Michael Coppin and others. (i) Shifting Ancil Antoine from Public Utilties. (j) Fitzgerald Hinds from Works to Public Utilities; more recently to Minister in the Attorney General?s Office
Con información de: The Trinidad Guardian
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