By Prior Beharry
PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley says that he will initiate talks to fight crime with the Opposition and that a cabinet reshuffle was never on the cards.
He made these comments and more at a post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Thursday.
This followed a three-day Cabinet retreat at Crews Inn from Monday to Wednesday this week.
At the ceremonial of the Fourth Sitting of the 12th Session of Parliament on Monday, President Christine Kangaloo called on MPs to put aside their partisan interests and unite to fight crime afflicting the country.
She said, “The urgency is obvious. The pain and the suffering are unbearable. These alone should drive parliamentarians to put aside their party rivalries, join hands across the aisle, and collaborate on how to stem crime and criminal conduct.”
The United National Congress (UNC) opposition stated that it has always been willing to collaborate to fight crime.
Dr Rowley on Thursday said, “Having heard the Opposition Leader speak on Monday, I intend to write to her and to ask her to supply or to receive personnel from the Government on the issue of crime and the Government will receive from her side on the issue of crime and let us see what common ground exist that the parliament can deal with.”
Regarding calls for a Cabinet reshuffle, Dr Rowley said that was never on the cards. He said reshuffles were ever a good thing and may have only reshuffled his Cabinet twice in eight years.
He said, “Social media mean anybody, so anybody could get up and announce a reshuffle and the media comes running to me asking me, ‘When is the reshuffle?’ I really don’t like being moved by the arbitrariness of social media.”
Dr Rowley said, “I am not a prime minister who will reshuffle to appease someone on social media who saying, ‘It’s time for a reshuffle.’ I rather have a minister do more with something that he or she knows more about now and let’s get on with the job.
“That is not to say that the occasion may not, will not or should not arise that the prime minister should make changes in the Cabinet.”
Speaking about the Dragon Gas Field with Venezuela, Dr Rowley likened negotiations to “a huge diplomatic boulder that we have been pushing up a hill since 2018.”
He said, “I think we have made some considerable progress and, hopefully, as we move into 2024, we are optimistic that we might be able to work our way out of the strictures on the Dragon matter and, of course, our own deepwater operations here.”
Dr Rowley said Energy MinisterYoung told the Cabinet retreat that his ministry had put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure a sustained gas supply in this country.
He said, “We have spent a great deal of time and initiated new policies to assist us in, firstly, sustaining the reduced level of production and also looking to increase that supply of natural gas by doing things within our borders, on our border and across our border.”
Dr Rowley said, “I am confident that the efforts we are making are getting us closer and closer to the top of the hill. We have made a lot of effort. Our minister of energy has literally been doing shuttle work between Washington DC and Caracas.”
He added, “That was necessary because that is what was called for. We continue to be engaged. We have crossed some hurdles and we have overcome some challenges and we still have a few in front of us.”
Dr Rowley said he did not want to say he was confident about the deal being done since the decision to develop the Dragaon Gas Field was not his to make.