Reginald Austrie, has been named Deputy Prime Minister in a cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Tuesday.
Austrie, who famously said in parliament in July 2013 that he graduated from college in the jungles of Guyana, was Minister for Housing, Lands and Water Resource Management.
Skerrit explained the rationale for the move.
“I believe the time for this has come, not necessarily from a successor perspective, as I do not believe the issue of leadership is something that can be bequeathed from one leader to another,” he stated. “However, I believe that for matters of continuity and seamless transition in the day to day functioning of government, there is benefit at this time in my naming a Deputy Prime Minister, who shall not only act as Prime Minister in my absence from the country, but who shall also be tasked with several administrative functions in the harnessing and coordination of the various ministries.”
He said Austrie will be assigned the portfolio of Agriculture. He replaces former Agriculture Minister, Johnson Drigo, who has been relinquished to the post of Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Lands.
“That individual, incidentally, shall also be assigned the all-important portfolio of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries because, just as Housing will be overseen by me, as head of government, I want also to send a strong and clear signal to the agricultural community that that sector will henceforth be overseen and spearheaded by none other than the new Deputy Prime Minister of the country,” Skerrit said. “So yes, housing and agriculture shall be the two key pillars, overseen by the two most senior members of the new-look cabinet of Dominica.”