Senior minister resigns from Surinamese Cabinet

Paramaribo – One week after President Chandrikapersad Santokhi announced plans to re-shuffle his two year-old Cabinet, Saskia Walden, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation, has resigned.

She will be replaced by Rishma Kuldipsingh, who has held the position of Labour, Employment, and Youth Affairs, and will join Steven McAndrew, a former free movement specialist at the Barbados-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) unit, who will be named as the appointed as Secretary of State for Labour, Employment and Youth.

“For some time, I have indicated that I will put my wallet at the disposal of the President,” Walden told Apintie Television. “The ministers also have the right to return their wallets. I have made use of that right, substantiated in writing.

“I will remain available to the government when needed and will serve the community to help drive sustainable economic development.”

McAndrew, who is expected to be sworn late on Tuesday, has been director of the Suriname Business Association (VSB) and helped shape the introduction of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Decent Work programme in Suriname in that capacity.

At the regional level, McAndrew was involved in the process of the free movement of persons under the CSME that allows for the transfer of skills, labour, services, and capital across the CARICOM grouping.

In a media release on Monday, the Suriname Communications Service (CDS) reiterated the government’s position that evaluation is a constant process and further changes would be made, when and where necessary.

According to the CDS, these evaluation interviews show that there is insufficient implementation capacity at certain ministries.

Earlier this month, President Santokhi confirmed that he would be reshuffling his cabinet amid persistent rumours of an imminent reshuffling of his ministerial team.

“We are working in a good, responsible, and correct way, and I think it will be completed within two weeks,” he added.

In the previous reshuffle of his office, Santokhi replaced his wife, whom he appointed as acting director of the President’s Cabinet, after taking office in July 2020.

Because of this appointment, the head of state was heavily criticised for what was described as a “gross form of nepotism”.

Santokhi said officials will also be replaced at various supervisory boards, district commissioners, and other institutions.

He said that this stems from a thorough evaluation that took place in recent weeks.


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