Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley approached Allyson West to take over the Ministry of Public Administration on Tuesday after the debacle surrounding his first pick—Garvin Simonette.
West confirmed this on Wednesday after it was announced that she had been assigned to head the Public Administration after McDonald was fired from the Ministry early Monday.
West, an attorney and former partner of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, was sworn in as a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, in June 2017 during a Cabinet reshuffle and had been put in charge of getting the T&T Revenue Authority off the ground among other projects.
The Public Administration ministerial portfolio became vacant after police charged McDonald, her companion and three others on a total of 56 alleged corruption charges. McDonald is on seven charges.
Government’s initial choice for the Public Administration post—Simonette—a PNM senator declined the job on Monday after his information of criminal charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol he had in the US in 2014 began circulating on social media. He also resigned from the Senate.
Consequently, Prime Minister Keith Rowley assumed the portfolio as he sought out another replacement not only for the Ministry but also in the Senate.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Communication listed reassignments within Government:
• West as Minister of Public Administration, in addition to her responsibilities as Minister in the Ministry of Finance
• Former PNM Senator Foster Cummings returning to the Senate, replacing Simonette. Cummings was removed from the Senate in July to make room for Cox to become a Senator.
• Laventille East/Morvant MP Adrian Leonce appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities, his first government job after winning the seat in 2015.
West told the Guardian Media on Wednesday, “I’ve acted in Public Administration before. That’s one of the reasons I wasn’t shocked when I got the call. That occasion was a short stint and I didn’t get into the Ministry’s nitty-gritty. So I’ll be sitting with the permanent secretary to get into the Ministry’s workings. It’s an interesting portfolio.”
She said one of the areas where she thinks she can make a noticeable difference is in the Information Technology (IT) space and I-Govt TT programme where T&T can do much. West added she was glad the assignment came before Parliament resumes so she would have time to settle in.
The Ministry of Finance’s 2020 Budget planning won’t be affected by her additional workload since she said the Finance Minister does the bulk of Budget planning and she comes in at end of the process.
West said she reached out to McDonald who was in hospital on Wednesday. “I extended an offer to help and wished her the best in her current situation.”