Today the media caught up with Prime Minster Barrow at his daughter’s Primary School Graduation Ceremony. Barrow has not appeared on the media since he left the country several weeks ago to seek medical attention. Several issues of concern have risen since then and so the media took the opportunity to hear from the Prime Minister on those issues. Last week, Prime Minister Barrow announced a Re-shuffling in Cabinet to take effect later this month. According to the release, Minister Carla Barnett requested that the full burdens of running the Ministry of Natural resources be alleviated from her shoulders. As a result, Junior Minister Huggo Patt , who was once deputy commissioner of the Ministry of Natural Resources under Gaspar Vega, was assigned the post of Minister of Natural Resources. Today, P.M Barrow told the media that the shuffle is intended to improve performance in the Ministry of Lands Department
Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: It’s really an effort to try to get improved performance in the ministry of natural resources in the Lands Department. Dr. Barnet went in, did an excellent job, stabilized things. I think put as far as that is possible to do a lead on corruption, but it’s a wearying job for any minister to have strode that particular ministry and that particular department. So, she obviously was beginning to feel the strain and I think it is in that context that she approached me, saying that she would like re-assignment. I think Hugo Patt is young and strong and is not completely new to that ministry because he was Gasper Vega’s deputy at one point in time. But I think certainly, from the point of view of a fresh look, a new perspective, a special bust of energy if you will. This ought to work out and the objective ought to be achieved, which is to speed up the process flows, the outputs and the services to the public. There is still a great deal of complain, despite the strides that Dr. Barnet has made and it is all across the board.
Members of the People’s United Party have suggested that Barnett was moved at the request of other UDP executive members who believe that Barnett was underperforming. P.M. Barrow responded to those allegations.
Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: Nobody came to me and asked me for Dr. Barnet’s removal. That there would have been complaints that the pace in the department was still not what people would like it to be, no doubt because that is also the perception and experience of the public. So, everybody acknowledges that Dr. Barnet made this tremendous effort, but that place is absolutely difficult not to say impossible to really move along in the way we would like and in the way the society deserves. It is in those circumstances, I repeat that Dr. Barnet felt that perhaps it was time for somebody else to give it a try because it does sap the energy of any minister who goes to the Lands Department.
It was also announced that Hon. Frank Mena will continue as Minister of State in that Ministry with de facto charge of Public Utilities, Energy, Public Service and Elections and Boundaries.