Stuart Young was a natural pick for the Energy portfolio, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated yesterday.
In making Stuart Young the new Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, the Prime Minister chose someone who had been involved in and familiar with all the major issues to be resolved in the energy sector.
“There wasn’t a meeting that I went to in energy (matters), that I didn’t carry Stuart Young with me,” Rowley told the Express.
Young had accompanied the Prime Minister to the Netherlands, UK and Houston in his meetings with energy titans. And it was Young, an attorney, who led the team which travelled to Japan to renegotiate the “onerous” conditions, deemed by government to be detrimental to T&T, that the UNC administration had agreed on for the contract for the Government/ Neal and Massy/ Mitsubishi petrochemical plant.
Young, who had been Minister of National Security since August 2018, fills the vacancy in energy created by Franklin Khan’s sudden death.
Commenting on his new portfolio yesterday, Young said: “I thank the Prime Minister, Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley, for his confidence in me in his reassignment of me to the portfolio of Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, in addition to my duties as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
It is a privilege and an honour to serve my country and I will always give of my best in any role I am tasked with. I would like to wish my colleague, Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, all of the very best as he assumes the portfolio of Minister National Security.” The changes which were announced by the Office of the Prime Minister at 2.40 p.m. yesterday, come two days after Khan’s death.
Hinds new National Security Minister
Young has been replaced in National Security by Fitzgerald Hinds, a former policeman who had served previously as a Minister in the Ministry of National Security under the late Martin Joseph.
Hinds has been chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on National Security for the last six years and has been a member of the National Security Council for the same period. He has also acted as National Security Minister whenever Young has been out of the country.
Hinds has held a variety of portfolios in the Rowley administration including Minister of Works and Transport, Minister of Public Utilities and Minister in the Office of the Attorney General.
An attorney by profession, Hinds is also a deputy political leader of the PNM.
Hinds had been appointed Minister of Youth Development and National Service in August 2020. This portfolio has now been assigned to Foster Cummings, who previously served as Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport. He now becomes a member of the Cabinet.
Commenting on his elevation yesterday, Cummings stated: “I am full of energy and I am passionate about young people so that I am going to put my all into this to improve the lives of our young citizens who really need that drive, that push and that hope. I am going to give it my best and I want to thank the Prime Minister for having the confidence in me.”
Moonilal: PM moving around scrap iron
Commenting on the Cabinet changes yesterday, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said: “As far as the mini reshuffle is concerned, the Prime Minister’s health has clearly further impaired his judgment. Fitzgerald Ethelbert Hinds is a well-known and proven failure in about eight ministries. This is a disaster.
The Prime minister should have asked (former UNC National Security Minister and current Commissioner of Police) Gary Griffith to return to this assignment. All I can say about Stuart Young’s appointment as Minister of Energy is that the ongoing motion of no confidence in the Order Paper against the Energy Minister by MP chief whip Lee will subsist since Young will be equally incompetent as his unfortunate predecessor. The Prime Minister is moving scrap iron from one side of a yard to the other. He has a dearth of talent from which to choose.”
UNC Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein also stated that Hinds’ appointment brings no hope, confidence or comfort to a fearful population. “During his short stint as the acting Minister of National Security, he mishandled the situation relating to the missing Orangefield fisherman...He made callous and insensitive remarks to the families of those fishermen,” he said.
Moonilal, commenting on Cummings’s elevation to Cabinet status, said he hoped Cummings would return to the PNM MP’s “chat”, a reference to a WhatsApp communication unveiled by Moonilal in which Cummings appeared to take issue with the Government’s border closure policy.
PM not impressed
The Prime Minister said yesterday he was not surprised by Moonilal’s remarks. “I don’t expect any positives of this source. Their goal is Trinidad and Tobago’s failure,” he said.
Addressing criticisms about Hinds and Young, the Prime Minister recalled that it was under Hinds’ chairmanship of the JSC on National Security that Young gave testimony naming three UNC (named) politicians as having links with the criminal element and one as having planned a meeting with two gang leaders from the Port of Spain area, which was eventually aborted. Rowley also recalled that Parliament had approved a resolution removing Moonilal from the JSC on the grounds of a conflict of interest.
He also recalled that Moonilal was also referred to the Privileges Committee for making a statement to Hinds , “That is why Snake have lead for you”, which was interpreted by the Privileges Committee as a veiled threat. Moonilal was called upon to apologise to Hinds and the House and when he was refused, the House, by motion, resolved that he would not be heard until he apologised.
The following is the OPM release:
Reassignment of ministers
Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley today (April 19, 2021) advised Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to, with immediate effect, in accordance with Sections 3(9), 76(3) and 79(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago:
(i)reassign Mr. Stuart Young as Minister of Energy and Energy Industries in addition to his duties as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister;
(ii)reassign Mr Fitzgerald Hinds as Minister of National Security and
(iii)appoint Mr Foster Cummings as Minister of Youth Development and National Service.