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Cabinet reshuffle comes after first annual review; P.M. says revisions ‘will further the national interest’

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Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022. 3:21 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Was Minister of Health and Wellness Michel Chebat’s exit inevitable?

In an official statement from the Government of Belize, Prime Minister John Briceño was directly quoted as explaining the reason for the reshuffle announced today: “My constitutional obligation as steward of the Executive requires the fine-tuning of ministerial designations from time to time, and in view of the current circumstances, I am convinced that the new assignments will further the national interest.”

The statement posits that the Prime Minister “conducted a comprehensive first-year review of national conditions, Cabinet portfolio performance and leadership effectiveness” over the last several weeks and made the changes “after consultations with senior colleagues,” believing “that the following portfolio adjustments will enhance Cabinet’s administration while advancing key governance goals.” It does not indicate whether these annual reviews will become standard or prove critical to electoral and political success for those involved.

New Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard is a three-time former Mayor of Orange Walk Town and brings what the statement calls “considerable experience in a broad spectrum of public sector and stakeholder management” – though little to none, to our knowledge, in the health sector.

Chebat, an attorney-at-law by profession and Senior Counsel, is cited as having “expertise in commerce and business” and thus “is particularly suited to tackle the complexities of public utilities and logistics.”

Meanwhile, Rodwell Ferguson keeps transport, where the Government boasts he has “already delivered improvements to the national transport system” and adds youth and sports; the statement claims he “has successfully managed youth and sports programs in one of the country’s largest constituencies.”

As for the other movements, Francis Fonseca adds the e-governance portfolio, in which he is expected to “speedily integrate… the transformational e-governance initiatives of government”, in combination with his technology portfolio.

The Prime Minister has advised the Governor-General, Froyla Tzalam, that these Cabinet portfolio reassignments are to be effected immediately; her office as representative of the Belizean monarchy makes the official appointments. Additionally, the Prime Minister has directed the Cabinet Secretary to expeditiously oversee the ministerial transition process, including the appointment of chief executive officers and senior staff.

All of the portfolios save Health have a CEO at present; whether this means lateral moves for these individuals was not announced.

 

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