Who will be in Cabinet
23 September, 2014, 12:00 am
THE 50 members of the new Parliament have been named and FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama was sworn in as Prime Minister by the President at Government House yesterday.
The next big question now is: Who will make up his inner circle?
The guessing game has begun on who will be in Cabinet.
Obviously, after the provisional results were announced and going into the weekend, Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama would have started reflecting on the kind of people he would want in his team.
His swearing-in ceremony yesterday marked the formation and commencement of a new administration so Cabinet for the resumption of government business, Rear Admiral (Ret) Bainimarama’s next step is to announce his Cabinet team.
Under Section 92(3) it is the Prime Minister who assigns each minister a portfolio of responsibilities, and he also determines the title and scope of each portfolio.
Generally, the selection of Cabinet takes into consideration a number of factors. These include provincial or divisional representation, cultural and religious representation, economic, gender and minority representation, party and personal loyalty to the PM and past performances.
Mr Bainimarama now has 32 individuals elected from all over the country to choose from.
This group includes seven ministers from his last government who found success at the polls.
Also available to him now are four very hardworking and productive and loyal senior civil servants and an influential special administrator from the Western Division.
They are former permanent secretaries Colonel Pio Tikoduadua and Dr Brij Lal; former divisional commissioners Commander Joeli Cawaki and Colonel Netani Rika; and former Lautoka Ba special administrator Praveen Bala who is ranked third in the winning FijiFirst’s individual vote tally.
While his previous government only had an 11-member Cabinet, the reality was there were more than 20 functioning portfolios.
In addition to his prime minister role, Mr Bainimarama was handling six other key portfolios while Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum also had five other ministries under his jurisdiction.
All these ministries were supported by 22 permanent secretaries.
Mr Bainimarama started slashing the size of his interim Cabinet at the end of 2007, a year after he came into power. He said then that the reshuffle was to remove overlaps and conflicts, balance the workloads and responsibilities, and enhance synergies. He also said further objectives would be to improve the overall functioning and effectiveness of the government machinery as a whole
Today, as a democratically elected PM, with the Constitution allowing him to establish the size of Cabinet, speculation is we will see an increased Cabinet size with both the PM and A-G shedding some of their additional portfolio’s to deserving party members. All eyes are now on the numbers of ministries created, the number of ministers appointed and the names of individuals chosen for these top posts in government.
While all these details have been kept under wraps awaiting a formal announcement, one thing we can be sure about is that there will be two new faces at least. With former Education Minister Filipe Bole bowing out of the election race and Youth and Sports Minister Viliame Naupoto losing out at the polls, these are two positions that definitely need to be filled.
* Will they make it back into Cabinet
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Anti-Corruption, Communications, Civil Aviation, Tourism, Industry and Trade, and Acting Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment); Dr Jiko Luveni (Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation); Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation); Timoci Natuva (Minister for Public Utilities (Water and Energy), Works and Transport); Dr Neil Sharma (Health Minister); Inia Seruiratu (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Forests and Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management); and Jone Usamate (Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment).
As prime minister, Mr Bainimarama himself was handling six other portfolios – Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics; Public Service; People’s Charter for Change and Progress; Information and National Archives of Fiji; I-Taukei Affairs; Sugar Industry; and Lands and Mineral Resources.