Local Government and Regional Development Minister Ganga Persaud as he took the oath of office (GINA photo)
In what could be viewed as a surprise move, Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud on Thursday announced that he had tendered his resignation, citing personal reasons and additional responsibilities.
“I, Ganga Persaud, do hereby announce my resignation as minister of local government and regional development with effect of January 31, 2014,” the minister, who was appointed in December 2011, said in a press statement. “My resignation as minister of local government and regional development is based on personal issues presently engaging my attention, as well as some additional responsibilities to which I am committed,” he explained.
It was a pleasure to serve in the capacity of minister, Persaud said, as he extended gratitude to President Donald Ramotar for investing confidence in him to execute his ministerial duties. Reflecting on his tenure, he opined that the ministry would have made tremendous strides.
According to Persaud, he has worked to strengthen the Local Government Department, centrally and regionally. He pointed out that the Local Government Department now gives support to neighbourhood democratic councils (NDCs) and municipalities across the country.
“I am extremely proud that together we, at most times, worked as a team to achieve all that have made us proud” he posited. The local government minister expressed gratitude to the junior Local Government and Regional Development Minister Norman Whittaker, the ministry’s permanent secretary Collin Croal, personal assistant Chitra Singh and confidential secretary Geetanjali Curicca among others.
As he demits office, Persaud has pledged his continued support to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government. “I wish to reiterate my full confidence in His Excellency, Mr Donald Ramotar’s ability to lead our country to greater heights and bring more opportunities for success to all Guyana. His Excellency’s leadership styles are admired by many and I am always amazed at the ease with which he deals with issues, particularly delicate and sensitive issues.”
He has also offered his commitment to work with the PPP/C during the staging of the next general and regional elections, with the primary objective of reclaiming the majority in the National Assembly. Persaud was among 19 ministers appointed as Cabinet members by President Ramotar on December 5, 2011. Previously, he served as the permanent secretary of the Legal Affairs Ministry, Education Ministry and the Local Government Ministry respectively.
After the news broke, Opposition Leader David Granger said while the resignation came as a surprise, Persaud had done much damage.
In an invited comment to reporters, Granger said: “I’m quite clueless. We know that the local government elections are in the offing and we know that Minister Rohee has been made general secretary of the party, but I don’t have a clue why Mr. Persaud would go off at this time.” He said politically “we felt that he had done a lot of damage to the local government system whilst he was the point man in dismantling the neighbourhood democratic councils and installing IMCs [interim management committees], so he has done a lot of damage.”
As a possible replacement for Persaud, Granger suggested Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
In the National Assembly on Thursday, Persaud’s absence was noted. He was scheduled to move a motion for the second reading of the Local Government (Elections) Amendment Bill 2014. The bill was designed to amend the Local Government Authorities (Elections) Act to provide for the postponement of elections for councillors of local democratic organs. It was read for the first time on January 16, 2014.