An introduction to the distinguished members of The Guyana Cabinet

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A Cabinet refers to a body of distinguished state officials, normally consisting of the top leaders of the executive branch. In Guyana’s case, these are Senior Ministers and Vice-Presidents. The chairing of the Cabinet is shared between President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.Cabinet is entrusted with the responsibility of discussing the business of the state and making important decisions as it relates to policy making and approval of funds for various projects. Here is a brief profile on the various members of Guyana’s Cabinet.

His Excellency, the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, David Arthur Granger, MSM, MSS

President David A. Granger was born into a large family, with strong roots in the public service. His life spans throughout the three counties: Essequibo, Berbice and Demerara.

He was educated at Queen’s College and graduated from the University of Guyana, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He also attended the University of the West Indies, the University of Maryland and the National Defense University in the USA.

His memorable years of military service are based on his belief in Guyana’s independence and territorial integrity.

Granger received his military training at the Mons Officer Cadet School and the School of Infantry in the United Kingdom, the Jungle Warfare Instruction Center in Brazil, and the Army Command and Staff College in Nigeria. After serving as Commander of the Guyana Defense Force and National Security Adviser to the President, he retired with the rank of Brigadier.

He made a significant contribution to national defense and public security as a member of several defense and security agencies. These include holding the Chairmanship of the Central Intelligence Committee, Co-chairmanship of the Border and National Security Committee, and Membership of the Guyana Defense Board, National Drug Law Enforcement Committee and the Disciplined Forces Commission.

He served in several public organizations and was elected to the Presidencies of the History Society, Guyana Heritage Society, University of Guyana Guild of Graduates and the Guyana Chess Federation. He is also a former member of the University of Guyana Council and the Guyana Press Association.

Presently, he is chairman of the Guyana Book Foundation, and a member of the Guyana Legion and the Board of Trustees of the Guyana Veterans Foundation.

Brigadier Granger has written extensively on national defense and public security issues. He received various academic awards which include the President’s Medal. His military awards include the Military Service Star for distinguished service.

Granger is married to Sandra Chan-A-Sue Granger and together they have two daughters, Han and Afuwa. Born July 15, 1945, he remains a stoic Guyanese politician. He was Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of Guyana from 2012 to 2015. He stood as the Opposition Presidential Candidate in the November 2011 General Election, but was defeated. He was elected as President in the May 11, 2015 General election, and stands on the precipice of doing what no other leader did: create a truly unified Guyana, where lines and boundaries of ethnicity are totally subsumed and consumed in a nationalistic manner.

 Prime Minister and First Vice-President, the Hon. Moses Veerasammy Nagamootoo

 Mr. Moses V. Nagamootoo was born on November 30, 1947 in Whim Village, Corentyne, Berbice to Gangama and Nagamootoo Ramaswamy.

He is married to Sita Nagamootoo for 45 years and they have four children: Angela Vashmini, Sita Maria, Adela Gangama and Moses Ernesto.

Nagamootoo was educated at Auchlyne Scots School, Rose Hall and Comprehensive High School and the University of Guyana. He later pursued law at the Hugh Wooding Law School.

He also pursued courses at the Accabre College of Social Sciences and the Venezuelan Spanish Language Institute and is a Fellowship of Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas.

Though he has an undying love for law, his passion for helping the oppressed led him to the life of politics. Mr. Nagamootoo, in 1961, entered politics at age 14, during the struggle for Guyana’s independence.

In October 1964, he became a Member of the Progressive Youth Organization (PYO) and People’s Progressive Party (PPP). In 1966, he founded the National Union of Students.

From 1976 to 2011, he was a Member of the PPP Central Committee, and from 1978-2005, he was a Member of PPP Executive Committee. In 2011, Mr. Nagamootoo became the Vice-Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC).

From 1992 to 2011, he served as a Member of Parliament. Mr. Nagamootoo was a Member of Cabinet under four Presidents (Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Samuel Hinds and Bharrat Jagdeo) during the period 1992 to 2001. His other portfolios include Senior Minister of Information, and Senior Minister of Local Government & Regional Development, with responsibility for Information & Amerindian Affairs. He has served on several select committees on constitutional reform.

The Prime Minister is also a recipient of the PPP’s Certificate for Meritorious Service (1990) and the Guyana IOJ Scroll of Honor as Outstanding Journalist (1996).

Minister of State, the Hon. Joseph Harmon

 Mr. Joseph is a Lieutenant Colonel (Rt’d) and was born and raised in the West Demerara village of Pouderoyen.

As a humble, industrious individual, Harmon completed his schooling in West Demerara, before qualifying to do his ‘A’ Levels at Queen’s College. Because of his circumstances at the time, he was unable to take up the opportunity and instead was forced to find employment.

He worked for about a year in the Geddes Grant motor sales department, before enlisting for the Guyana Defense Force’s Officer Cadet Course. His outstanding performance promoted him to the rank of Second Lieutenant following his graduation, then to Lieutenant Colonel at the time of his retirement.

He completed his law degree at Cave Hill in Barbados before attending the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad. On completion of his law studies, he served for some time in the army’s legal services department, where he was the Commanding Officer.

After 23 years in the Guyana Defense Force and another 15 years as a lawyer in private practice, Harmon is an “active politician” and was a new face in the 10th Parliament. He served as APNU’s Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure.

Harmon was a member of the Young Socialist Movement (YSM), the youth arm of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Chairman of the Pouderoyen YSM group, and a member of the Regional Executive of the movement.

Mr. Harmon is married and has six children.

Second Vice President and Minister of Public Security, the Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan

Attorney-at-Law and co-founder of the Alliance For Change, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, is known to be a power house in any field he is in.

He became a member of the National Assembly in 1992, but his introduction to politics was through the People’s Progressive Party. He ascended through the ranks, from being leader of its youth arm (PYO,) to the position of member of that party’s central committee. However, his futuristic way of thinking, probing mind and true commitment to democracy at all levels, including at the level of internal party arrangements, brought him into conflict with the other heads of the PPP/C.

It was his vision for a new and progressive political dispensation in Guyana that led him to form the Alliance for Change in 2005, the party he founded with Raphael Trotman and Sheila Holder.

He has fearlessly and objectively represented his views on numerous issues, some highly politically sensitive, all in his quest for a better Guyana. His advocacy in many high profile human rights cases has given him prominence and stature in Guyana’s legal fraternity.

He successfully participated in the British Council’s Young Lawyers Commonwealth Scholarship Programme in 1992 at the University of London. He is a former Editor of the Guyana Bar Review.

He is married to Sita Ramjattan with whom he has two children.

Minister of Finance, the Hon. Winston Jordan

Known for his meticulous nature, Mr. Winston DaCosta Jordan is a former Head of the Budget Office of the Ministry of Finance. His stellar academic pedigree allows for confidence building, where Guyana’s economy is concerned. He is a graduate of the University of Warwick (UK) with a Master’s degree in Economics, the University of Guyana with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and Penn State University (USA) with a Certificate in Budgeting & Structural Adjustment. He also received a Certificate in Public Sector Budgeting from the Harvard University (USA).

Mr. Jordan has accumulated valuable experience in his field. He served in numerous positions, some of which include a Country Analyst in the Economic Intelligence Unit, a Technical Coordinator at the Public Management Modernization Program (IDB), and a Budget/Economic Adviser at the Ministry of Finance. The minister utilized his education and expertise in teaching at the University of Guyana. He served also as Director of GAIBANK (1987 to 1992); Bauxite Development Company Limited (BIDCO, 1987 to 2003); Guyana Cooperative Financial Service (GCFS, 1997 to 2005); Alternate Director, Caribbean Development Bank (1986 to 1992); Temporary Governor and Alternate Governor to the IDB, CDB and the IMF/World Bank Group.

This kind of distinguished background was recognized and well rewarded. Mr. Jordan deservedly copped a number of honors and awards namely: the University of Guyana Vice Chancellor’s Special Award; Commonwealth Scholarship; UNDP Fellowship; and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship.

He is married to Charmaine Atkinson-Jordan and together they have three children: Jo-Anne Milner, Darren Jordan and Yanic Jordan.

Minister of Education, the Hon. Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine

Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine comes to the coalition government from the Working Peoples’ Alliance (WPA), a party that had aligned itself with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), ahead of the 2011 General and Regional Election.

The Honorable Dr. Roopnaraine has been appointed Minister of Education and replaces predecessor Priya Manickchand.

Dr. Roopnaraine was born on January 31, 1943 in Kitty, Georgetown and is the father of Dr. Terry Roopnaraine and Alicia Roopnaraine. He is a world respected professor and instructor of Liberal Arts, who has lectured at some of the most prestigious universities and learning institutions around the world.

Dr. Roopnaraine is in no way a stranger to Guyana’s politics and the struggles of the working class people of Guyana. He has been a leading figure in the WPA, even during the 1980 assassination of his political comrade and colleague, Dr. Walter Rodney.

He has been in the front line of the national political movement since 1977 as one of the elite leaders of the WPA.

He served as a Member of the Faculty of the University of Guyana from 1976 to 1990 and as a Member of Parliament for a number of years.

He was educated at Queen’s College (Guyana), Cambridge University (UK), and Cornell University (USA), and holds a Doctorate in Comparative Literature.

Dr. Roopnaraine was part of APNU’s Shadow Cabinet in the 10th Parliament, holding the portfolio of Agriculture and Environment.

 Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. George Norton

Head of State, David A. Granger, administered the Oath of Office and swore in as substantive Health Minister, Dr. George Norton, who has served the Shadow Cabinet of the Opposition as Shadow Health Minister for a number of years.

Dr. Norton is an Ophthalmologist by profession. He was educated in Cuba, where he graduated with a Degree in Medicine from the Superior Institute of Medical Science in 1984 and specialized in Ophthalmology in 1988. Dr. Norton is a Consulting Ophthalmologist and Head of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Guyana.

He is also one of the Vice Chairpersons of PNC/R. He is also the Party’s Director of Hinterland Affairs.

Dr. Norton entered Parliament in 2001 and has also been recognized as a vibrant representative of Amerindian communities throughout Guyana.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Carl Greenidge

Under the new APNU+AFC administration, Carl Barrington Greenidge has been appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Greenidge was born in New Amsterdam, Berbice and attended New Amsterdam Congregational School, first spending a few months at the Malteenoes Branch of Tutorial.

He then attended Berbice High School, until he left for the United Kingdom (UK) to further his education. Greenidge is a former Minister of Finance, Planning and Trade under the then PNC administration, and has extensive experience at the policy, management and technical levels. He has worked on public sector economics and agricultural policies as well as international trade and finance.

Greenidge has also provided distinguished service to his country, the Caribbean and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. That service has been in the design and management of Guyana’s Economic Recovery Program (1988 to 1992) and the negotiation of the unique north-south cooperation compact, the Lomé Convention, inter alia.

The latter pact aimed to alleviate the burden of poverty in the ACP regions, which include the most trade-dependent countries in the world, and countries in which agriculture is dominant.

He has also successfully headed two joint ACP-EU funded institutions devoted to development and cooperation, and has, in the process, sat on both ‘sides’ of the Donor-Recipient interface.

Greenidge has published four monographs, numerous academic articles on economics, and contributed to books on a variety of issues, including the political economy of agricultural modernization, international agricultural trade negotiations and marine fisheries. He has been Co-President of the Joint Council of Ministers of the European Union and the ACP States.

Greenidge is a member of the PNC/R and served in the 10th Parliament as APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance and International Economic Co-operation.

 Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Catherine Hughes

Catherine Andrea Hughes is a Media Specialist with extensive knowledge of the Caribbean media and advertising environment. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) Degree in Mass Communications.

Mrs. Hughes has worked at media bodies in the Caribbean and internationally for more than 20 years, having served as a news reporter for the Caribbean News Agency and with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) as a television producer. She was part of the BBC’s Radio Merseyside team as a freelance reporter.

Upon her return to Guyana in 1993, she started a company, Videomega Productions. She is also Director of Ariantze Hotel Sidewalk Café and Jazz Club, which she runs with her husband and family.

Other positions she held include: former president of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), and a member of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and the Caribbean Media Corporation.

She firmly believes that Guyana needs an “entire public relations” campaign, because the country is still unknown to many parts of the world. More than that, Mrs. Hughes wants the country to provide adequate training for those securing a career in the tourism industry.

Minister of Social Protection, the Hon. Volda Lawrence

Among the Cabinet inductees by His Excellency President Granger, Mrs. Volda Lawrence has been sworn in as Minister of Social Protection with human services and social security being incorporated under this ministry.

Mrs. Lawrence is an Accountant by profession. She has a Degree in Accounting from the University of Guyana and a Master’s degree from Gloucester University, England and is a Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA Level II).

Lawrence is a member of the PNC/R’s Central Executive Committee and also heads the Human Services and Welfare Department of the Party.

She served in the 10th Parliament of Guyana as APNU’s Shadow Minister of Human Services and Social Protection and as Chairperson the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee during the course of the 9th Parliament.

Minister of Communities, the Hon. Ronald Bulkan

The Housing and Water Ministry along with the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry have been assimilated into the new Ministry of Communities. President Granger has named Ronald Bulkan as Minister of Communities under the APNU+AFC administration.

Bulkan is the fifth of seven children of Rehannah Bulkan and the late George Bulkan, both of whom were school teachers.

Ronald Bulkan was born in Supenaam on the Essequibo Coast, and is a product of rural Guyana, though not exclusively so. He attended St. Philips Nursery School, Bush Lot Primary School, Yakusari Government School, Massiah Government School, Dolphin Government School and Queen’s College.

He has spent his entire life in Guyana, except for a nine-month period in 1979/80, when he lived in the USA, while attending the University of Houston.

Bulkan is a co-founder (1983) of Precision Woodworking Limited, a pioneering company in value-added processing in the wood sector of Guyana.

Bulkan and Precision were awarded the coveted Ernst and Young Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year title in 2001, which is, to date, the only Guyanese company to earn this accolade.

He subsequently was inducted to the World Entrepreneur of the Year Academy in Monte Carlo in June 2002. He is married with children.

 Minister of the Indigenous People’s Affairs, the Hon. Sydney Allicock

Sydney Allicock is from the North Rupununi, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Region Nine and is widely accepted as a pioneer of community-based tourism in Guyana. He was Public and Civic Contributions 2010 Laureate. Allicock is a representative of the Guyana Action Party (GAP) in APNU.

He has been a key figure in the development of the village of Surama over the past two decades, the North Rupununi region, and Guyana’s indigenous communities, which account for nearly a tenth of the country’s population.

As a former Toshao of Annai, Allicock pioneered celebrations for Amerindian Heritage Day which were later adopted as a national event by the Guyana government. Amerindian Heritage Day is now celebrated in a different village each year, bringing both investment and national attention to indigenous communities around Guyana.

Allicock is also one of the Iwokrama Centre’s key tutors for its Training Services Center, where he has helped train hundreds of young Guyanese, mostly from indigenous communities, in leadership, survival skills, and eco-tourism development. His writings have been published in the distinguished literary journal Kyk-Over-Al. He served in the 10th Parliament of Guyana, with responsibilities for Local Government and Hinterland Development.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, the Hon. David Patterson

Mr. David Patterson was born on May 4, 1967 in Georgetown and received his early education at St. Gabriel Primary School and St. Stanislaus College. He studied at the Greenwich University (UK) and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Quantity Surveying.

He is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Real Estate Appraiser and Project Manager. Mr. Patterson has over 25 years’ experience of providing quantity surveying, project management and appraisal services to both public and private sector clients in the United Kingdom, Guyana and the Caribbean.

He is a member of the Royal Institutions of Chartered Surveyors, and the Architecture and Surveying Institute.

He is a member of the AFC and served as a Member of Parliament (2006 to 2011), and as the party’s General Secretary (2012 to 2015).

Other positions held by Mr. Patterson include: past President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation, past President of the Georgetown Dominoes Association, and Past President of the Rotary Club of Demerara. He is a Paul Harris Fellow (Rotary Foundation).

Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Basil Williams

Attorney-at-Law Basil Williams comes to government from the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), one of the larger members of APNU which coalesced with the AFC ahead of the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections.

Williams was appointed and sworn in as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, following the ousted Anil Nandlall.

He began his public service career as a young lawyer, and as one of the Legal Advisors of the late Founder Leader of the PNC, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.

Later, he was to become Legal Assistant to the then President Hugh Desmond Hoyte, from 1985 to 1988. Williams also served as a Vice-Chairman of the PNC/R and a member of the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Williams is also Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the party and a member of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform.

Williams holds an LLB (Hons.) Degree from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and a Legal Education Certificate from the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad and Tobago.

He has served in different capacities in the public domain, including representing Guyana at the 6th Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in 1985; City Councilor from 1986 to 1988; and Secretary of the Review Committee of the Companies Act, between 1986 and 1988.

Williams first entered Parliament in 2003 and also served in the 10th Parliament of Guyana as APNU’s Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs and Justice.

He is also married with children.

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