THE A Partnership of National Unity (APNU) faction of the coalition government is set to meet next month to tackle a range of issues of concerns to parties within the grouping.
And President David Granger has reportedly stressed the need for the government to continue improving its performance even as he expressed concerns over some issues, including the coalition’s showing at the March 2016, Local Government Elections (LGE) during his meeting with the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) on Saturday.
Sources told this newspaper that during the meeting with the executive of the WPA, the head of state spoke also about the state of education in the country, and the relationship between party representatives in Cabinet and their parties among other issues.
The coalition’s performance at the 2016 LGE and its future performance was raised in a broad discourse during the meeting with the WPA.
Guyana Chronicle understands that the President is also concerned about information not being filtered to the executives of parties that form the coalition government.
This newspaper was reliably informed that the President raised that concern following statements made by the WPA that it was not consulted before the reassignment of Dr Rupert Roopnaraine from Minister of Education to Minister of Public Service.
However, the Guyana Chronicle was told that the WPA is not at all pleased with the existing arrangement of filtering information to each political party which forms the coalition.
The WPA, founded by Dr Walter Rodney, believes it would be better that the political parties are engaged as a body, so that whenever political decisions are made, the APNU meets rather than having a representative of each party filtering that which has been decided.
Meanwhile, in a terse statement issued after the meeting, the WPA said it raised a range of concerns with the president and his team.
“We tried to be as frank as we could in the circumstances,” the WPA said in its statement. It added that President Granger responded to “our concerns and introduced some of his own.”
WPA said it feels that the meeting was cordial and fraternal.
“We are satisfied that there is a commitment on both sides to mutually address areas of concerns and contention and to work to strengthen relations within both the APNU and the wider Coalition.”
The party said it would brief the media in more detail at a press conference scheduled for this morning.
The WPA was represented at the meeting by Dr. Clive Thomas, Dr. David Hinds, Dr. Wazir Mohammed, Dr. Rishi Thakur, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Desmond Trotman, Tacuma Ogunseye, Jinnah Rahaman and Ali Majeed.
The meeting was called following the reassignment of Dr Rupert Roopnaraine from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Public Service. Junior Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, is performing the duties as minister of education.
Last Tuesday, it was announced that by virtue of an agreement between President David Granger and Dr Roopnaraine, on Monday, the reassignment effective June 15, took place.
Dr Roopnaraine has been unwell for some time now and the Guyana Chronicle was told that the administration had been actively considering an adjustment to his portfolio. Dr Roopnaraine has been represented by his junior Minister, Nicolette Henry at several events.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, had said that the changes made by the President are geared at ensuring that better educational and public services are provided to citizens in a smooth and efficient manner.
He made it clear that notwithstanding the reassignment of Dr Roopnaraine, President Granger has full confidence in his ability to fulfill the new portfolio.
“He continues to have full confidence in Dr. Roopnaraine as a valued member of Cabinet, as well as a valued member of the National Assembly and it is felt that overseeing the public service would add to the quality of service, which is provided to the people of Guyana,” Minister Harmon said on behalf of the President.
Dr Roopnaraine has since said he is comfortable with the reassignment. “I am looking forward to the new ministry. It is a new challenge. I did the best I could in the Education Ministry,” Roopnaraine told reporters on Thursday.
Since assuming office in 2015, this is the third adjustment President Granger had made to his Cabinet. In 2016, Minister Catherine Hughes was appointed Minister of Public Telecommunications, while the Ministry of Governance and the Protection of the National Patrimony were delinked and the latter renamed the Ministry of Natural Resources and assigned to Minister Raphael Trotman. The functions of the Ministry of Governance were then added to the portfolio of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, while Minister Simona Broomes was shifted from the Ministry of Social Protection to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Minister Keith Scott was then moved to the Ministry of Social Protection from the Ministry of Communities and was tasked with responsibility for labour.
To facilitate Scott’s move from Ministry of Communities, President Granger appointed Valerie Sharpe-Patterson as the Minister within the Ministry of Communities, with responsibility for Housing.
In January of this year, the President made some additional changes to his Cabinet, reassigning Minister Volda Lawrence from the Ministry of Social Protection to the Ministry of Public Health. She was replaced by Minister Amna Ally, who was moved from the Ministry of Social Cohesion and replaced by Dr. George Norton, who had moved from Public Health.