Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell
By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- In a national address on Tuesday, Grenada’s prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, announced a number of changes in Cabinet responsibilities, in accordance with what he described as a commitment given in 2013 continually to adjust ministerial positions to improve efficiency and to give members different experiences, especially those who have served for a long time in any one area.
The changes he announced were also influenced by several critical considerations.
“There is a growing need to provide more support in the ministry of agriculture, lands, forestry, fisheries and the environment, which have additional challenges at this time. We are bringing in personnel with different skill sets to take on very specific areas within that ministry.
“Within the prime minister’s extensive ministry, there is also a need for increased expertise, given the series of expanded services we are planning to undertake and manage in the coming period, such as paying executive attention to cost-savings and waste management within government, as well as a more vigorous focus on implementation, given the variety of projects that are either on stream or in train,” Mitchell said.
The following changes in ministerial portfolios will therefore take place effective July 1, 2016:
First, there will be a new senator. Pamela Moses, as a replacement to Senator Sheldon Scott, who will now be engaged full time with, and paid by the New National Party in the areas of public relations and organization.
Moses will also be appointed the parliamentary secretary with specific responsibility for youth and religious affairs, in the ministry of sports, youth and religious affairs, which will now be headed by Roland Bhola.
Bhola is taking over the sports ministry.
The new minister for agriculture, lands, forestry, fisheries and the environment will be Yolande Bain Horsford, the former tourism minister.
Alvin Dabreo will continue as a minister within that ministry, with specific responsibility for forestry and fisheries.
Simon Stiell will be the minister of state with specific responsibility for the environment.
Stiell will also continue as minister of state in the ministry of education and human resource development, with specific responsibility for human resource development.
The minister of education, Anthony Boatswain, remains unchanged.
The present minister of youth, sports and religious affairs, Emmalin Pierre, will be one of three ministers in the prime minister’s ministry.
Alexandra Otway-Noel will now be the minister in the prime minister’s ministry with special responsibility for waste management and the promotion of the citzenship by investment programme.
Also, under the prime minister’s ministry will be minister of state, Senator Winston Garraway, who will be responsible for disaster management and information.
Nickolas Steele, who is now the minister for health and social security, will have additional responsibility for international business.
Oliver Joseph, the minister for economic development, trade, and planning, will now have the ministry of labour added to his portfolio.
Deputy prime minister, Elvin Nimrod, the minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique affairs and legal affairs will also now be the minister for foreign affairs.
Clarice Modeste-Curwen, now minister for foreign affairs, will be the new minister for tourism, civil aviation, culture and cooperatives, with specific responsibility for tourism and civil aviation.
Senator Brenda Hood will continue as the minister in that ministry, with special responsibility for culture and cooperatives.
On the current economic situation, Mitchell said, based on first quarter performance for 2016, the Grenadian economy is expected to achieve at least the three percent real growth targeted for this year, after having grown more than five percent in 2015.
During the first quarter of this year, current revenue increased by over ten percent, when compared to the same period last year. At the same time, expenditure was reduced by almost nine percent.
“There are strong, positive indicators in many sectors of the economy,” he said.
In the tourism sector, first quarter stayover arrivals exceeded the comparable period in 2015 by 12.3 percent. This growth was led by a 32 percent increase in arrivals from the leading US market.
Arrivals from the other Caribbean countries increased by 26 percent, while the UK market recorded a 5.1 percent increase.
Cruise ship arrivals increased by nearly 35 percent.
The construction sector is projected to continue its positive growth in 2016 with ongoing private sector developments being complemented by the implementation of public sector investments, including the construction of the Parliament building, several activities under the disaster vulnerability reduction project, and several road development works. The value of first quarter imports of construction materials increased by 18 percent; while retail sales of building materials increased by 14 percent.
In the area of agriculture, there was a near 13 percent increase in the value and volume of nutmegs, and a 36 percent increase in the volume of mace production.
The overall rate of job creation is expected to improve, driven mainly by developments in the construction, service, and tourism sectors.
Meanwhile, as a broad policy position, the government continues to back the ongoing constitutional reform process.
“The final bills are now before parliament, and it is still our hope that our people will be able to vote on the independent committee’s various recommendations this year,” Mitchell said, pointing out that the process has been led and promoted by an independent committee, representing all sectors of the society, which include the business sector, churches, trade unions, other political parties and NGOs.