By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
lesroywilliams@thestkittsnevisobserver.com (Basseterre, St. Kitts) ” It looks like the prime minister has laboured mightily and brought forth a host of new cabinet assignments. Following the resignation of the Hon. G.A. Dwyer Astaphan as the Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour on July 31, the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis announced to the federation on Friday morning, August 8, the he had taken on the portfolio of Minister of National Security among other portfolios. “Consequent upon the resignation of the Hon. Dwyer Astaphan, it has become necessary for me to reassign and restructure a number of ministerial portfolios to ensure the continued implementation of our comprehensive agenda of social change and economic transformation,” Dr. Douglas said. The Prime Minister’s announcement comes after much speculation about the relationship between him and the resigned Minister of National Security, Dwyer Astaphan. Mr. Astaphan resigned his portfolio at a time when crime in the Federation is a major focus of public attention.. The Federation has recorded 14 homicides for the year and lawlessness is on the rise. According to Prime Minister Douglas, he has sought to give heavy focus on the issues of highest national priority including Law and Order and the Public Finances. “In particular, I am of the view that the issue of crime is an urgent priority that requires continuous attention at the highest policy level. Moreover, we must be relentless in the fight against crime, and we simply do not have the time that would be required for any new minister of National Security to move along the learning curve,” the Prime Minister stated. Prime Minister Douglas said that he is the most competent person at this time to deal with the scourge of crime in the Federation given his vast experience as Minister of National Security in the past and his ability to ensure that Law and Order continue to occupy the attention of policy-makers at the highest levels of government. At his monthly press conference on July 9 of this year, Prime Minister Douglas lauded the Hon. Earl Assim Martin, who was at the time the acting Minister of National Security, Immigration and Labour, as one in his Cabinet who was very serious about the issue of crime. “Minister Martin has some peculiar characteristics that I understand. He is a very, very firm person. He is one in my cabinet who is extremely firm about crime. He lives in an area, he represents a constituency that is engaged in a number of these (criminal) activities and he has taken that part very seriously,” the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister emphasized that it was because he detected a seriousness and firm oneness of mind in Mr. Martin that he had used him in the past to act as Minister of National Security. Critics are wondering why he has not given Minister Martin the portfolio of Minister of National Security since he had such belief in him as a competent and capable person with respect to dealing with crime. Mr. Martin said that he was on the same page with Dwyer Astaphan in sharing the view ‘that crime is a cross cutting issue that requires policy interventions spanning numerous Governmental activities including social, community and youth development, growth and employment, education, and law enforcement”. The Prime Minister stated that in the fight against crime, the government will be seeking international assistance in the form of law-enforcement officers with special expertise in gang-related criminal activities to work along with local law enforcement officers. He pledged to continue to foster dialogue among the key stakeholders and the society as a whole with a view to developing a comprehensive and holistic solution to the problem of crime.” Apart from assuming the portfolio of National Security, the Prime Minister assigned new portfolios to himself and other Ministers of his Cabinet. He said that it would be difficult to tango with the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Finance as his portfolios since the Ministry of National Security requires a lot of time and attention and would not allow him to carry out his duties as Minister of Finance effectively. To that end, he has assigned Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris as the Minister of Finance, while, he has assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to which Minister Harris had been responsible for some time.” Minister Harris is now Minister of Finance, International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer affairs. Prime Minister Douglas is now Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Security, Immigration, Sustainable Development, Tourism Sports and Culture. Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor has assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Labour, formerly occupied by Dwyer Astaphan, and the Ministry of Information and Technology, formerly occupied by Prime Minister Douglas. The Ministry of Social and Community Development, formerly occupied by the. Hon. Sam Condor has been assigned to the Hon. Rupert Herbert. The Hon. Sam Condor’s portfolio is now as follows, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Youth Affairs, Labour, Social Security, Information and Technology. The Hon. Rupert Emmanuel Herbert is now Minister of Health, Social and Community Development and Gender Affairs. The Hon. Nigel Carty who up until now was working under the Prime Minister in the Ministry of Information and Technology will continue to do so under the Hon. Sam Condor. Mr. Carty’s portfolio now runs as Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs, Labour, Social Security, Information and Technology.