This is what Opposition Leader Mia Mottley thinks of the actions of some members of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s Cabinet who part with “convention” by operating businesses while being senior ministers responsible for controlling Government policy.
“You have now people [in Cabinet] . . . running full time commercial businesses. Nobody is asking you to divest yourself of ownership of assets that you might have prior to public life. But you create a blind [independent] trust and devolve all management decisions away from you as minister.
“But to have a minister running a business, getting the benefit of his ministerial status in the promotion of that business on a day to day basis . . . it is wrong. [It is] something that must be deprecated in the strongest possible terms,” the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader said.
While addressing a BLP candidate nomination meeting at St Michael School last night for the St Michael South Central constituency, Mottley led a stinging attack on Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick – who owns a bar, Goodies, in Six Roads, St Philip – and Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo – who runs a medical practice, accusing them of dismissing the covenant established by her party when it was in Government.
However, she reserved her most witheringly scornful rebuke for Minister of Housing Denis Kellman, who last Wednesday kept his Moontown Hardware open in defiance of a national shutdown during the passage of then Tropical Storm Matthew.
Carlton & A1 Supermarkets, Lemongrass Noodle Bar & Grill and Chefette had also opened despite the national shutdown order by the Department of Emergency Management.
In the face of public criticism of his decision to keep the business open, Kellman was defiant, stating on his Facebook page that those who criticized him were “jealous because our mall was open to serve Lucy’s children”.
Mottley suggested that the minister had dismissed Barbadians in a vile and sickening manner.
“In that posting the minister is literally sticking his thumb, his finger, up the entire Barbados public, and the media who legitimately asked the Acting Prime Minister [Richard Sealy], how could you condone the [Attorney General] quarreling about fast food businesses and supermarkets opening, and not a word of condemnation for Denis Kellman, their ministerial colleague?
“I deplore the actions of Minister of Housing Denis Kellman for opening his business at the very time that the Attorney General was seeking to do the right thing by asking people to observe the national shutdown, because what is at risk is ultimately people’s lives,” the BLP leader said.
“You must never as a person sitting in the same Cabinet next to him [Attorney General], and next to the Acting Prime Minister, being the first out of the wicket to break the request for there to be a national shutdown.”
The Opposition Leader contended that there was no way this would have happened under a BLP Government, insisting that none of the professionals, including lawyers, practised when she was a minister in the Owen Arthur administration.
“In our Cabinets before, you could not serve as a Cabinet minister and run a business. It was never the law, but it was the convention.
“Jerome [Dr Jerme Walcott] would tell you that as a doctor he had to stop practising. Can we say the same thing about Esther Byer-Suckoo?”