Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will be returning home a day later than scheduled as Hurricane Irma hit Florida yesterday. Upon his return, Rowley will temporarily take up the Public Administrations and Communications portfolio as the regular line minister Maxie Cuffie recuperates from a medical episode which he had last Tuesday (September 5). Sources close to Cuffie said he is recuperating at St Clair Medical Centre and his family, "wishes its privacy."
A statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) yesterday said Rowley completed his medical examination in the United States and will return home early tomorrow morning. The Prime Minister, who went for his medical check-up in California, was due to return home today, with his connecting flight to TT being in Miami. However Miami International Airport has been closed due to the passage of Hurricane Irma. As a result of this, Rowley's return flight has been diverted away from Miami. The Prime Minister will now arrive early tomorrow morning via a Caribbean Airlines flight through New York. There are no plans for Rowley to hold any press conference at Piarco International Airport upon his return. The Prime Minister held a briefing before he left the country on September 1.
Sources told Newsday that since Cuffie fell ill, the administrative functions of the Public Administration and Communications Ministry are being handled by the OPM. When Rowley returns, he is expected to, "attend to further interim arrangements for that portfolio." Earlier this year, Rowley temporarily handled the Public Utilities Ministry after Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene Mc Donald was initially appointed to the post and fired shortly afterwards. was fired several months ago.
Former banker Robert Le Hunte was appointed to the post on August 31. Le Hunte was first appointed on August 24 but his appointment was subsequently revoked after questions arose as to whether he had Ghanaian citizenship. On August 31, Le Hunte took full responsibility for the "communications glitch" which caused the initial confusion. He apologised to Rowley and the nation.
Le Hunte will take his oath as a senator, whenever next the Senate sits.