Chief Ministers & Prime Ministers

Chief Minister is similar to the role of Prime Minister, but usually with a lower rank. The role within the Westminster System of government where a constitutional head of state is advised by ministers who usually head the executive government ministries. The Chief Minister is understood to be "first among equals". They would be the chief adviser to the nominal head of state, the chair of the cabinet, and the leader of the main governing party in the legislature. Albert Gomes was the first Chief Minister of Trinidad and Tobago followed by Dr. Eric Williams.

THE PRIME MINISTER

Where there is an occasion for the appointment of a Prime Minister under Section 76 (1) of the Constitution, such as after a General Election, the President must appoint as Prime Minister a Member of the House of Representatives who is the leader in the House of the party which commands the support of the majority of members of that House. Under the party system that operates in Trinidad and Tobago, that person is usually the party's leader. Where no majority party emerges or where the party has no undisputed leader, the President appoints as Prime Minister the person, who in his view, is most likely to command majority support in the House of Representatives. In this case, the President uses his/her discretion. The person appointed must be willing the accept the office of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minster's position of authority derives from the majority support in the House of Representatives and from the power to appoint and dismiss Ministers. The Prime Minister presides over the Cabinet and is responsible for the allocation of functions among Ministers.

Apart from being the leader of the Cabinet, which has effective control of the nation's affairs, the Prime Minister keeps the President fully informed concerning the general conduct of the Government and shall furnish the President with such information as he may request with respect to any particular matter relating to government.

The Office of the Prime Minister is also responsible for constitutional matters, national statistics, public holidays, national awards, ecclesiastical affairs, and library services