Wheels in motion for reshuffle

National, Normal

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has started the consultation process with individual ministers to be affected in a reshuffle he expects to announce next week.
Sir Michael has met with a number of ministers this week including National Planning and Monitoring Paul Tiensten, Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch, sideline Minister for Correctional Service Tony Aimo, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Mark Maipakai and Health Minister Sasa Zibe.
Sources close to the Prime Minister said he had assured Mr Tiensten and Mr Pruaitch of retaining their respective ministries.
Although the Chief Justice has set up a Leadership Tribunal panel into the allegations of misconduct in office by Mr Pruaitch, the National Alliance powerful Momase bloc has strong backing for the deputy leader of the party.
Mr Pruaitch is fighting the referral by the Ombudsman Commission which the outcome of that legal battle will impact on the Leadership Tribunal.
Ambunti-Drekikier MP Mr Aimo, stripped from the Correctional Service Minister at the height of the maximum security unit break-out was believed to be offered Communication and Broadcasting Ministry and will also be special envoy on climate change.
Kokopo MP Patrick Tammur is likely to be moved to the Correctional Service Ministry while Pangu Pati leader Andrew Kumbakor will take over the Agriculture Ministry from Bogia MP John Hickey.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Talasea MP Francis Marus is tipped to take over the Housing Ministry that will be vacated by his Pangu leader.
Health Minister Mr Zibe and Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Mr Maipakai have been tipped to be replaced.
Sir Michael had been holding discussions with individuals to be affected letting them know about their future and giving them his reasons for making changes.
The Prime Minister, who is expected to make the announcement some time next week, on Wednesday flew to Wewak to hold an urgent meeting with the province’s public servants who have not been implementing Government programmes despite millions of kina in district service improvement programme funds pumped into the province.
He returned to Port Moresby yesterday afternoon where he will finalise the Cabinet changes before making an announcement.