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Faris Al-Rawi speaks to the media after the Swearing-in Ceremony of the new Government at President’s House, St Ann’s yesterday.

PETER CHRISTOPHER

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Legislation concerning the wearing of masks has been bumped to the top of the list for Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

Al-Rawi said he had never quite left the AG’s office despite the election campaign as he explained he still an exhaustive list of bills which still to go to Parliament, but he stressed while speaking to journalists after being reappointed in the role, “The safety of the nation is a priority.”

The Attorney General explained, however, that simply implementing a law which would see members of the public arrested for wearing masks would be “impractical”.

“The COVID regulations are number one. The honourable Prime Minister informed that I was giving advice in the mask-wearing and whilst the honourable Prime Minister referred to the existing regulations and the existing Public Health Ordinance allow us to make an arrestable offence for mask-wearing that would be extremely impractical,” he said.

“The Cabinet will consider a particular course of action for ticketable offences to go alongside arrestable offences so we could go with fixed penalty notices, etcetera,” he said.

However, he said this would require Parliamentary action.

Al-Rawi was one of many who had been recalled from the previous Cabinet to a position he had previously held.

But amid the new faces in the line-up, one name also held public familiarity – Brian Manning, the son of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

While he will enter the Parliament as the Member of Parliament for the very same constituency his father held for 44 years, he insists it’s not simply a legacy he is carrying on.

“It’s not really about a legacy to me, it’s a lot of work to be done. I’m glad to be in a position to contribute to the development of my country and that’s really where the focus is going to be about. About helping people and moving us forward as a country,” he said at President’s House yesterday.

His appointment as a Minister in the Ministry of Finance was extremely pleasing he said, as he felt it was where he could best serve the public.

“The last government, their term in office was about stabilizing the economy, this term is going to about growth and creating jobs and diversification. It has to be what we are about,” said Manning.

Another new face Marvin Gonzales also sought to take up his portfolio at the Ministry of Public Utilities, to address the long-running concern of water supply shortages in the country.

Gonzales said this would be one of his main focuses as he took over the Ministry, but he could not say immediately if restructuring of the Water and Sewerage Authority or any public utility would be the approach.

“I cannot go in with the intention to restructure anything unless I get a full understanding of what is required so that they can provide the people of Trinidad and Tobago with utilities, with water, with electricity, with telecommunications, etc,” said Gonzales.

He added, “I am of the view and I am not afraid of making difficult decisions once I am comfortable that these decisions will redound for the benefit of the people of the country and that is what I am concerned about.”