By Niall Gillett – News Editor
Governor General Sir Colville Young swars in the new Cabinet comprised of 12 Ministers and five assistants at his residence in Belmopan.
The 16 chosen Ministers and Ministers of State of the new United Democratic Party Government were sworn in today, Tuesday February 12, at the residence of the Governor General in the Capital City, Belmopan.
Crammed into the small welcoming room with their families, friends and the media, they officially took on the tasks of their portfolios with a signature and a handshake from the Governor General, Sir Colville Young.
They walked down the curved driveway to be reunited with and to be greeted by crowds of their supporters, waiting to congratulate them. That afternoon, the leaders of the new government met in the Cabinet Room to begin the first official business of the day.
The programme started at about 10:15 AM with the entrance of the Governor General, Sir Colville Young. He noted that although it is not a big priority on the Government’s list, the tightly packed room needed to be made bigger.
For expediency, he asked that all swear the Oath together, rather than one at a time, and then invited each member individually to sit at the table for the signing.
After the signatures were all complete, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who was sworn in last Friday, addressed the Governor General and thanked him, reaffirming his pledge to have his Government conduct itself in an open, fair and transparent manner.
In an interview with Prime Minister Barrow after the ceremony, he told the Reporter that he and the members of Cabinet would start their first meeting discussing the various Rules and Articles of Conduct of the Cabinet.
He said it was important for the members to treat not only their fellow colleagues with mutual respect, but also the members of the Public Service. He said that they would also have an overview of Belize’s financial situation to presented by the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, a leftover from the previous government.
He said his administration would attempt to set a date for the inaugural First sitting of the National Assembly.
Asked about the promise for lower fuel costs, Prime Minister Barrow responded that it was his government’s plan to do away with the current Revenue Replacement Duty.
RRD on fuel, and replace it with fairer, flat tax.
He explained that this could be done in the first 90 days of the new government, provided that all legal requirements to make the changes are met.
He confirmed his pledge – to empower the Public Utilities Commision (PUC), and make changes to the currently restricted use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology in Belize.
Finally Prime Minister Barrow repeated his promise to keep the public informed about decisions made by his government, and to improve relations with the media.
Prime Minister Barrow said that he had originally conceived of four Ministers of State, but after Michael Hutchinson had done what he did in defeating the PUP incumbent, Ralph Fonseca, he promptly revised his plan and appointed him to be a Minister of State.
Hutchinson will serve as Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government, which is headed by Minister Garbriel Martinez.