PM Finalizing Shuffle
Prime Minister Perry Christie has put speculation to rest, indicating that he is finalizing plans to shuffle his Cabinet.
"The prime minister must always examine his government with a view to making adjustments and most certainly I am looking at making adjustments," Mr. Christie told the Bahama Journal recently.
But he said he did not want to go into details regarding the specific changes he planned to make to his Cabinet.
Rumours regarding his planned Cabinet shuffle have been rife over the past several weeks, but Mr. Christie had been tight-lipped on the matter.
The Journal was informed by a source close to the government that one of the changes the prime minister was considering is making Financial Services and Investments Minister Allyson Maynard-Gibson Attorney General. Mrs. Maynard-Gibson would still retain her present portfolio, according to the source.
With the many challenges being faced in improving the national examination average from a "D", it would probably come as no surprise to many if changes were made to the portfolio of present Attorney General and Minister of Education Alfred Sears.
The Official Opposition has long been calling for changes to the Cabinet - demanding the removal of certain ministers from government altogether.
Free National Movement Leader Senator Tommy Turnquest told the Journal Friday that, "We've made it very clear over the past few weeks that we think to have a minister responsible for both Education and the Attorney General's Office is not in the best interest of the education system or the legal system of The Bahamas. We believe there ought to be some changes in that regard."
Again calling for the removal of Neville Wisdom as the Minister responsible for culture, Mr. Turnquest added, "We believe that after two consecutive years of having controversy in Junkanoo there ought to be movement in that regard and we ought to move Neville Wisdom from the portfolio of culture that is responsible for Junkanoo.
"We believe that he ought to be removed out of the Cabinet altogether. But at a minimum, he ought to be relieved of the portfolio of culture, which includes Junkanoo."
Mr. Turnquest also said the Official Opposition believes that Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller should be sacked, given the fact that the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation has already been removed from his portfolio, which Mr. Turnquest said was the main aspect of his responsibilities.
"Leslie Miller publicly said he did not know what was going on at BAIC and for a Minister to say that about a matter under his portfolio is condemnation in itself," Mr. Turnquest told the Journal. "For that statement alone he ought to have been relieved of his Cabinet responsibility."
But Minister Miller's response to that was that, "Tommy Turnquest needs to get a life and find something constructive to do for 2004."
"I don't have time for foolishness," said Minister Miller, when asked to respond to Mr. Turnquest's suggestion. "What about his mishandling at the Ministry of Tourism? He's not even the true leader of the Opposition."
He said he does not pay attention to anything Mr. Turnquest has to say.
But Minister Miller added, "I wish him all the best for 2004."
In his interview with the Bahama Journal, Mr. Turnquest also said one of the biggest disappointments in the Cabinet has been Glenys Hanna-Martin, the minister responsible for transport and aviation.
"I had very high hopes for her because she is a very intelligent person...but I have been very disappointed with her over the past 12 months...I think she ought to be removed to a more suitable portfolio," he said. "I believe she has the skills to perform in government, I just have been disappointed with her performance in government. She hasn't done a good job in that portfolio.
"In terms of looking at it objectively, those are comments I think are shared by a cross section of the Bahamian society."
But he added, "We also accept the fact that the appointment of the Cabinet is the prerogative of the prime minister."
However, Mr. Turnquest charged that "the country has been drifting aimlessly without a clear national plan and the prime minister ought now to seriously consider appointing men and women in portfolios best suited to them as we move forward because we do want the Bahamas to succeed."
No Cabinet Reshuffle