NALINEE SEELAL and CLINT CHAN TACK
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday instructed all Government MPs and senators to attend a one-day retreat at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Ash Wednesday. Rowley ordered the retreat during a brief meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in St Clair. The meeting began at 3 pm and ended an hour later.
The retreat comes at a time when a NACTA poll showed the government’s dwindling public support as well as a plethora of anti-government songs at last Saturday’s Calypso Fiesta in Skinner Park. Several calypsonians who sang anti-government songs, have made it to the Calypso Monarch finals set for next Sunday at Dimanche Gras.
The OPM has received several letters and emails from people living in certain People’s National Movement (PNM) constituencies, who have complained about the performance of their respective MPs. Some complaints involve MPs not being attentive to constituents’ concerns or not present enough in the constituency.
A source said Rowley felt the retreat was important so that MPs and senators can assess and improve on their respective performances. The Prime Minister hopes that coming out of the retreat, government parliamentarians would be more connected to issues happening on the ground and be more responsive to concerns of the people they represent.
The only parliamentarian who would miss the retreat is La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie, who is recuperating at a hospital in Washington DC. Cuffie suffered a stroke last year, was warded at the St Clair Medical Centre and later flown to Washington DC for further treatment.
In a radio interview last month, Rowley confirmed he had been handling Cuffie’s Public Administration and Communications ministerial portfolio since the latter fell ill. Rowley said he plans to make a slight adjustment to allow another Cabinet minister to oversee Cuffie’s responsibilities. Rowley dismissed speculation this meant a Cabinet reshuffle was in the works and expressed optimism that Cuffie would have a speedy recovery.
Cabinet’s Finance and General Purposes (FGP) committee, which comprises virtually all members of Cabinet, meets regularly on Monday at the OPM.