Vibrant, youthful, competent faces in Dr Irfaan Ali’s Govt

…as 19 Cabinet Members sworn in
…new Ministers warned of being accountable to executive, Guyanese

Just days after taking the Oath of Office, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Wednesday swore in 19 members of his new Cabinet, and among the lot are several new, vibrant and youthful faces, whom he said bring multifaceted skillset and experience.
The simple swearing-in ceremony was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre – the same location where Dr Ali was sworn in as President on Sunday last.
While the new Cabinet has some familiar faces, there are several new and young faces. These include: Hugh Todd, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Vickram Bharrat, as Minister of Natural Resources; Charles Ramson Jr, as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport; Sonia Parag, as Minister of Public Service; Oneidge Waldrond, as Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce; Colin Croal, as Minister of Housing and Water; Susan Rodrigues, as Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water; Dr Vindhya Persaud, as Minister of Human Services and Social Security; Nigel Dharamlall, as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development; Anand Persaud, as Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development; and Deodat Indar, as Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
Indar will be working alongside new Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, who had previously served as Junior Finance Minister in the last People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government.
Among the other familiar faces who have returned to help the Ali administration with implementing its policy and plans are: Dr Frank Anthony, as the new Minister of Health (former Culture, Youth and Sport Minister) and Robeson Benn, as Minister of Home Affairs (former Public Works Minister).
In addition, former Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai have returned to those two portfolios.

Meanwhile, also joining Ali’s Cabinet are Joseph Hamilton, as Minister of Labour, and Kwame McCoy, as Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister.
Prior to Wednesday’s ceremony, Dr Ali, immediately after his own swearing in four days ago, had made three appointments. Former President and PPP/C General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo has been named Vice President, and former Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has been appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance. Anil Nandlall was also immediately sworn in as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, a position he had held in the previous PPP/C administration.

Finance Minister
Notably, however, no announcement was made regarding the key portfolio of Minister of Finance. When asked about this on the sidelines of the event, the President explained that the search is still on for a potential candidate.
“We’re still looking. We have had many discussions with many stakeholders and individuals in the formation of this Cabinet…,” he stated.
Asked whether former Finance Minister under the last PPP/C administration, Dr Ashni Singh, was being considered for the post, the President contended that no specific individual is being looked at.
“We are looking at a lot of variables. We’re still in the searching mode. I cannot confirm to you any individual, because we’ve not identified an individual yet… We’ve reached out to many individuals, but no one in particular in relation to finance,” President Ali noted.
In the meantime, he said, the responsibility for that key sector is being fielded by the Office of the President until an appointment is made.
“With the skillset that we have at the moment in the Office of the President, with the former President (Bharrat Jagdeo) we are hoping to move quickly on a number of issues at the financial level, but it is an area that we’re still searching for a potential candidate,” the Head of State asserted.
Nevertheless, President Ali, in brief remarks, after swearing in the new members of his Cabinet during Wednesday’s ceremony, pointed out that not only will the new ministers be tasked with carrying out the programme of his Government, but they would also be accountable to the people of Guyana.
“These Ministers will be held account, not only by the executive and the Parliament, but more importantly by the people of this country. I expect that this team will be results-oriented; that this team will work in an efficient and transparent manner. The multi-faceted nature of skillset that comprise the team is what I believe Guyana requires in ensuring we fulfil the aspirations of all the people of this country,” he posited.
According to the Head of State, the swift move to appoint these ministers – whom he said brings newness, youthful energy, freshness and important skillsets – is because there is a lot of work to be done. These new Cabinet Members have been drawn from the private sector, the legal sector, health sector, and even educators.
“It’s a multifaceted fusion of experience and skillsets that we brought together… So you will see many of the appointments in the various areas of Government that will fuse different corners of our society together, different interests of our society together, as we work on giving the people of our country the best possible outcome… You’ve taken, like I did, an oath to people of this country, and we expect nothing else but fulfillment of that oath,” President Ali asserted.
He further reminded the Ministers and their families that their new portfolios are not an 8-to-4 job, and that they must all be willing to make the necessary sacrifices in the interest of Guyana and for the betterment of its people.
Meanwhile, the Head of State explained that some of the Ministries were realigned to remove duplicity, to make it easier to do business with the Government, to improve bureaucracy and efficiency.
The previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime had renamed several ministries when it took office back in 2015.