BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: As he battles pancreatic cancer, Prime Minister David Thompson has reassigned members of his Cabinet and lightened his workload.
The changes, which took effect on Monday, include Thompson handing over the responsibility for Finance to Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Christopher Sinckler and taking the Economic Affairs portfolio from Dr. David Estwick to add to Sinckler’s new responsibilities. Sinckler’s current responsibilities have been split between two other ministers.
“My reduced physical capacity has placed a strain on my ability to serve you as I would dearly want to, particularly in these challenging economic times when the signs are clear that full global economic recovery is still a fair distance away,” said Thompson.
Thompson said the months ahead will be challenging and “it is for that reason that I have assessed the future, in the context of my illness and reduced capacity, and have determined that it is necessary and prudent that I divest aspects of my ministerial portfolio that require robust, day to day oversight”.
Thompson, who is undergoing chemotherapy in New York, made the announcement via a pre-recorded audio message rather than television broadcast due to his physical state.
“On this occasion I have chosen not to speak to you by live telecast. The nature of my medical treatment has occasioned obvious weight loss. I would rather that you get the portent of my message rather than the picture; and be concerned about the message, not the medium,” he said.
Thompson, who is also Minister of Finance and Investment, Civil Service and Energy, now has one other portfolio along with his position as Prime Minister – National Security.
Freundel Stuart will remain Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs.
Sinckler, who takes on the key Ministry of Finance and the Economy, was identified in a recent poll commissioned by the Nation newspaper as Barbadians’ choice to succeed Thompson.
The Prime Minister said all the changes he had announced would “accelerate the delivery of vital policies and services”.
“I have every confidence in the public service of Barbados to implement such, with the efficiency and alacrity that is required,” said Thompson.
Although admitting his limitations due to his condition, Thompson said he and his family were determined to battle his illness.
“(We) are fully co-operating with the medical teams here and in New York, to ensure that all that’s humanly possible is done to arrest and reverse this condition, while humbly recognizing that ultimately the will of God will prevail,” said Thompson. “We are well aware that the future of us all rests in the hands of the Almighty. In recognition of this truth, I continue to solicit your intercession and prayers.”
Thompson thanked Barbadians who have responded with “overwhelming love and compassion” towards him and his family.
“I take this opportunity to reassure you that I continue to feel greatly blessed, highly favoured and deeply loved. Thank you for your expressions of support and fervent prayers during this testing period,” Thompson added.