Turks and Caicos premier reshuffles elected Cabinet ministers
The New Year brought with it new changes for the elected government ministers in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), when Premier Dr Rufus Ewing announced immediate changes to ministerial portfolios and responsibilities.
These changes, which will take effect within coming weeks, were announced during a media briefing, where the premier and ministers explained a two-phased approach to the Cabinet reshuffle.
The first phase, which comes into effect as early as January 19, 2015, will see the main swap in portfolios between Ewing and Minister Porsha Stubbs-Smith and Ministers Amanda Missick and George Lightbourne. The second phase slated for April 1, 2015, will see more intricate departmental changes as well as the renaming of actual ministries.
“This shuffle is a very positive restructuring of the ministerial government and comes at a critical time in our term in office. In the two years already past there have been tremendous wins in each of the ministries and the efforts of each minister should be applauded, as their contributions have been impactful and commendable. By swapping ministerial responsibility, we are able to capture a fresh wave of ideas and energy and it is on that momentum that we seek to maintain the pendulum of success,” Ewing said.
A notable feature of the reshuffle is the takeover of the health ministry by Ewing, himself a medical doctor, who played a central role in the creation of the territory’s controversial and hugely expensive National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP)
Ewing was a member of the inner circle that contracted with a Canadian company as the health services provider and a local company as the hospital building contractor. The contract was awarded without a bidding process.
The two new hospital buildings themselves cost $125 million and provide a total of only 30 beds. The NHIP is now reported to be costing the people of the TCI approximately 40 percent of government revenue.
However, apart from a very brief period in 2013, in his two years in office Ewing has conspicuously avoided taking on the health portfolio himself.
Commencing January 19, 2015, the ministerial portfolios will be as follows:
Office of the Premier and Ministry of Health – Dr Rufus Ewing
Deputy Premier and Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services – Akierra Missick
Ministry of Finance, Investment and Trade – Washington Misick
Ministry of Government Support Services – Amanda Missick
Ministry of Border Control and Labour – Ricardo D. Gardiner
Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs – George Lightbourne
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Heritage – Porsha Stubbs-Smith