Last week when the political campaign died down and the red and blue waves subsided, the Prime Minister had announced that the recently elected Area Representative for Dangriga, Frank Pawpa Mena would be given a portfolio in Cabinet. The media was then notified on the following day that Mena had been given the title of Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security. He was subsequently sworn in as a member of Cabinet by the Governor General, His Excellency, Sir Colville Young on Friday, July 10. Up to that time, it was unclear as to what exactly Mena’s role and responsibilities would be. And so today we asked the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of National Security to explain to us, the functions of Mena as the Minister of State.
“The Minister of State, his portfolio is similar to the portfolio that is given to the senior minister, the Honorable John Saldivar which is the responsibility for Police, BDF, Coast Guard, Central Prison, National Forensic Science Service and for the National Security secretariat. He would deputize, for example, in the absence of the minister and at those functions that the Minister is otherwise unable to attend. It is expected that he would act on the minister’s behalf. He would also sort of give the minister ease in terms of dealing with the various departments under his portfolio. I can see the minister now having a little bit more time to focus on things that are of strategic focus and to have the junior minister or the Minister of state focusing more on those that are more operational. That does not say that the senior minister will not also deal with operational issues but this will give him a little leeway for him to be able to deal with policy and strategic level matters.”
While Mena is yet to be officially sworn into the House of Representatives, he has already begun playing his role as the Minister of State since his appointment as he has been in several meetings and will be taken on a familiarization tour of the various facilities in the coming weeks.
“He was sworn in on Friday and I had the privilege of having that brief discussion with him and one of the things that he made clear to me was that he is new in the whole business of national security and he is willing and prepared to learn so he is taking the approach where he will be listening and asking questions. He is prepared to hear from those who have been there and to try and learn from it. I have planned for him an orientation tour of all the departments that are under his portfolio and that will take place over a three week period. He will be visiting the Forensics and the Central Prison and he will be visiting at the BDF and Coast Guard and he will do the Police.”
Mena’s rise to Government minister came about after the sitting Dangriga Area Representative, Ivan Ramos, resigned from the House of Representatives on June 9, 2015 thus triggering a bi-election in which Mena garnered six hundred and thirty seven more votes than his opponent, PUP’s Anthony Sabal.