Senator Allyson West has been appointed the new Minister of Public Administration.
This was announced by Communications Minister Donna Cox in a news release on Wednesday morning.
Cox said the Prime Minister had advised the President to revoke Garvin Simonette’s appointment as senator and to assign the Public Administration portfolio to West, in addition to her duties as minister in the Ministry of Finance.
Foster Cummings, who was removed as a senator recently to make room for Cox, has been reappointed.
Laventille East MP Adrian Leonce has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities.
West, speaking with the media after the launch of the Three-Tier Mentorship Programme for Energy Professionals at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, said she was not shocked by the appointment, because she had acted in the position a couple of times when McDonald was ill.
But, she said, “It’s a new challenge and I will be looking to see what difference I can make in the short time that I have.”
Asked what she brought to the position, West replied that she brought a desire to get things done in a more business-like way, as well as more dynamically, quicker and more effectively.
“Hopefully I can bring the management skills that I learned in the private sector into the ministry and see some results.”
Asked if she was screened after the controversy surrounding Simonette, whose appointment was revoked after the revelation that he had been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol in the US in 2014, West said she has been a minister for quite some time.
“So any screening would have been done earlier in my initial appointment.”
Asked her first priority for the ministry, she replied she would like to make a positive impact in the IT world, including having free Wifi areas, better co-ordination of the IT systems of the government and a wider use of e-payments.
West said she had reached out to former Public Utilities Minister Marlene McDonald by message, as the latter was still hospitalised and she did not want to disturb her. She said she asked McDonald if there was anything she could help with and wished her all the best “with the difficulties before her.”
She added: “Marlene was a very hard worker. She used to come to Cabinet – she knew what her ministry was all about and she had plans even in anticipation of issues that the Prime Minister would have to (deal with): she said, ‘Yes, I have already put things like that in place.’ So she was a hard worker, and I know there are big shoes to fit in.
“So I have to go the ministry and determine what her plans were and see if I can get those accomplished, in addition to introducing my own ideas.”
The Prime Minister, during his feature address at the Hyatt, recognised West as the new minister and described the event as a “pleasant moment in a week of unpleasantries.
“But today, ladies and gentlemen, I am such a happy person that temporary challenges and disturbances pale into insignificance in the presence and importance of this group of national jewels on my right and your presence on my left.”
McDonald, also Port of Spain South MP, had her appointment as public administration minister revoked after she was charged, along with her common-law husband Michael Carew and Victor McEachrane, with attempting to defraud the government by procuring funds for the Calabar Foundation which was identified as a charity group.
She was hospitalised at the St Clair Medical Centre on Monday after complaining of feeling unwell.
West was appointed Minister in the Ministry of Finance on June 30, 2017.
She is a former partner and territory tax leader in the tax and corporate services department of PricewaterhouseCoopers TT and is a senior member of the Law Association.