|Christie Cabinet complete|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: May 12, 2012
Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday defended the large size of his newly formed Cabinet, claiming the challenges confronting the nation warrant as many hands on deck as possible.
Government yesterday announced the final Cabinet appointments of 11 ministers, pushing the number of posts in Christie’s Cabinet to 21 (16 ministers and five ministers of state). Three parliamentary secretaries have also been appointed.
“Under ordinary circumstances I would have selected a smaller Cabinet but the quite extraordinary and multi-faceted challenges facing our country today have compelled me to put together a Cabinet that will enable us to tackle these challenges simultaneously on as many different fronts as possible,” the prime minister said after the 11 ministers were sworn in and took their oaths of office at Government House yesterday.
He added that the size of his Cabinet is approximate to the one formed by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham at the start of his term in 2007.
However, Ingraham’s Cabinet was later reduced to 17 members. Those appointed to Cabinet yesterday include familiar faces like Fred Mitchell, appointed as minister of foreign affairs and immigration;
V. Alfred Gray, appointed as minister of agriculture, marine resources and local government; Shane Gibson, appointed as minister of labor and national insurance; Glenys Hanna-Martin, appointed as minister of transport and aviation and Melanie Griffin, appointed as minister of social services.
The list also includes newcomers to Cabinet: Dr. Michael Darville as minister for Grand Bahama; Dr. Perry Gomez, minister of health; Kenred Dorsett, minister of the environment and housing; Dr. Daniel Johnson, minister of youth, sports and culture; Hope Strachan, minister of state in the ministry of transport and aviation; and Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Of note is the appointment of Darville, who will be the first minister to head the newly created ministry for Grand Bahama. After the ceremony, Darville said he will work to bring duty free concessions to West Grand Bahama, have open and frank discussions with the Grand Bahama Port Authority and find ways to revitalize the island’s economy.
The creation of a specific ministry for the economically depressed island was something the Progressive Liberal Party promised to roll out within the first 100 days of its term.
MP-elect for Bamboo Town Renward Wells, MP-elect for South Beach Cleola Hamilton and MP-elect for Exuma Anthony Moss have been appointed as parliamentary secretaries. They will serve in the Ministries of Works and Urban Development; Foreign Affairs and Immigration and Agriculture and Marine Resources respectively. The trio will be sworn in at Government House on Monday.
Christie added that the Cabinet appointments were not a five-year deal and would be subject to change later in his term. He promised to provide leadership opportunities for his party’s “new generation” when he shuffles his lineup later on.
“I fully intend to make mid-term ministerial adjustments with a view to bringing into the Cabinet some of our elected members of Parliament who have not been included in the first round,” he said. “By the end of our term in office the new generation of political leaders will have risen to dominance in the Cabinet.”
Dr. Kendal Major, MP-elect for Garden Hills, has been appointed as the next speaker of the House and MP-elect for Nassau Village Dion Smith will serve as his deputy.
Christie said MP-elect for Mount Moriah Arnold Forbes has asked to become chairman of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation and an ambassador with a special focus on trade and job creation.
Over the next few days, Christie is expected to announce several other appointments to government boards and agencies.
Cabinet will have its first meeting Tuesday morning.