GOB makes changes to Cabinet
Friday, August 5th, 2016
On Monday, August 1st, the Cabinet of the Government of Belize (GOB) underwent an urgent reshuffling. In a press release issued on the same day, Prime Minister Dean Barrow officially announced and explained the necessity for the changes, particularly in the Ministry of National Security, due to recent corruption scandals. The other changes also gave way to the naming of a new Senator solely for the police department, and the assigning of a new minister for the portfolio of Natural Resources.
The decision to rearrange the Cabinet began brewing from Friday, July 29th, after Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s arrival from the United States. It was not made clear then, but everyone was expecting such action by Central Government given the fact that one of their key Cabinet Ministers had apparently been associating with accused murdered and international con-artist William Mason.
As a result, Minister of National Security Honourable John Salvidar will no longer be in charge of the police department and instead will be assigned the responsibility to command the Ministry of Defence. The Belize Defence Force and the Belize Coast Guard will be the only security entities under the command of this Ministry.
According to Prime Minister Barrow, the removal of Saldivar as head of the police ministry came in view of the current police investigation which involves Saldivar himself. The recent reports of an allegedly illicit relationship between Saldivar and Mason has raised a concern within Cabinet. In a press briefing on Monday, August 1st, Barrow stated that so far he stands with Saldivar since the investigation has yet to yield any incriminating facts. “I don’t think that anything that Minister Saldivar did, mounted to criminality or corruption. He was perhaps conned into this acquaintanceship with this individual in the same way that many others, including some additional ministers, were,” said Barrow. However, he also indicated that as the investigation continues, if anything conclusive is brought up to him that would tie Saldivar with Mason, he would be entirely removed from Cabinet.
The police department will now be under the wings of Senator Honourable Godwin Hulse, who was officially pronounced Minister of Police. Hulse will also continue as Minister of Immigration, but will relinquish the Natural Resources portfolio. Therefore, the new Minister of Natural Resources will now be Honourable . She will take her new post as soon as the she is sworn in as Senator.
However, Retreage’s appointment is being questioned, given the fact that the Natural Resources Portfolio now lies in the hands of an unelected person. The appointment was expected to have been a major debate at the Cabinet meeting prior to the press conference, since there are certain elected ministers with much more seniority and experience than Retreage. However, according to Barrow, there was no objection in regards to his appointments. “We convened at this special session this morning and I indicated what my decision was and there was not one dissenting voice,” ended Barrow.
In an effort to continue exercising transparency, the government also stated that it will continue its fight against corruption in all its Ministerial branches. It was confirmed that all other current Ministerial assignments will remain unchanged.
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