Cabinet Of Winners

There were many winners in the new Cabinet yesterday. The only loser was Dr Neil Sharma, the former Minister for Health. Health now goes to Jone Usamate, who did an
25 Sep 2014 10:44
Cabinet Of Winners
Minister for Local Government Housing and Environment Parveen Kumar Bala is congratulated by his mother (left) Kamala Bala and Sanjivini (right) Photo: Ronald Kumar

There were many winners in the new Cabinet yesterday.

The only loser was Dr Neil Sharma, the former Minister for Health.

Health now goes to Jone Usamate, who did an excellent job in the Labour ministry in the previous Cabinet.

Dr Sharma tried hard and did his best as minister but he stepped on people’s toes.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama used conventional wisdom in bringing someone from outside of the medical professional to give health services a new lift. The same concept is used in many countries. In New Zealand and Australia, some district health boards have hired chief executive officers (CEO) who have no medical backgrounds but are excellent administrators. They have been able to achieve the turnaround that was needed.

That’s the PM’s ultimate goal. He has four years to deliver on his promises and has picked the best team with the capability to do it. Mr Usamate is a good operator. The job will require all his skills because Health is always a big item in an election and so much needs to be done to build on the momentum of the past eight years.

Dr Jiko Luveni, former Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, will be the Speaker of Parliament. She had to resign from her parliamentary seat to be nominated by the FijiFirst Government. Laisenia Tuitubou, former Commissioner Central,  who missed the final cut, fills the seat and becomes Minister for Youth and Sports. He takes over from Viliame Naupoto who failed to get a seat in Parliament.

Right across Cabinet, the high performers from the old government, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Pio Tikoduadua, Inia Seruiratu, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Timoci Lesi Natuva, and Laisenia Tuitubou form the core strength. They are joined by promising Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Faiyaz Koya, Dr Mahendra Reddy, Major Jioje Konrote, Laisenia Tuitubou and Rosy Akbar.

– Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Finance, Public Service, Public Enterprise, Trade, Tourism:  His work ethic is unrivalled. He will be the pace-setter in Cabinet.

– Mr Koya, Attorney-General: Big shoes to fill but he has the potential to grow into the job

– Mr Tikoduadua, Infrastructure and Transport:  He gets things done

– Parveen Kumar Bala, Local Government, Housing and Environment: Good organiser

– Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Lands and Mineral Resources: Legal background will help her. A lot of work  required.

– Osea Naiqamu, Fisheries and Forests: Experience will help him a lot.

– Inia Seruiratu, Agriculture, Natural Disaster Management: Business as usual for him. Past experience an asset.

– Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Foreign Affairs: No better person for the job. He has done wonderful work for Fiji.

– Timoci Lesi Natuva, Immigration, National Security: No-nonsense approach will come in handy.

– Jone Usamate, Health and Medical Services: Great operator. Cool under pressure.

– Dr Mahendra Reddy, Education, Heritage and Arts: Passionate about education. Already looking at primary schools.

– Major Jioje Konrote, Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations: Military leadership skills will provide stability and confidence.

– Laisenia Tuitubou, Youth and Sports: People skills will help. Humble hard worker.

– Rosy Akbar, Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation: As a mother and educationist, she has a lot to offer.

Outside Cabinet are five assistant ministers: Lorna Eden, Joeli Cawaki, Veena Batnagar, Vijay Nath and Iliesa Delana.

Ministry of Information could become a casualty in the planned civil service reforms announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in his victory speech on Sunday. It was not assigned to a minister yesterday.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum will oversee the reforms which will involve cutting the fat and streamlining operations to achieve efficient service. Each ministry has a media liaison officer (MLO). The position could be developed to handle more media matters. The Ministry of Information could become a department within the Ministry of Communications as part of efforts to cut public service costs.




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