Former Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn says Barbados’ laws do not make provision for two ministers to be appointed to one ministry.
Following Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announcement of her new Cabinet on Monday, an outspoken Franklyn has declared that the appointment of two ministers to ministries is an unconstitutional development.
However, he said Mottley is not the first prime minister to make such a move. Mottley who became Prime Minister in 2018 when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won the General Election also appointed two ministers to ministries in a bigger cabinet.
“The Constitution requires that there is a minister in a ministry and if the minister needs help, he is helped by a Parliamentary Secretary, not by another minister. These ministers have no portfolio you know. They don’t have any responsibility; they can’t sign off on anything.
“We see Dr Sonia Browne as the Minister for the QEH, that is nonsense, there is a Minister of Health. A minister in the ministry is not allowed by the Constitution. But of course, when you have 30 seats, you could do whatever you like and the Barbadian public decided well, they will let her do what she likes. You don’t need all of these ministers, there is no work for them,” Franklyn said.
The General Secretary of the Unity Workers’ Union (UWU) was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday at the union’s 6th Avenue Belleville, St Michael headquarters.
Prime Minister Mottley also announced that Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw and three other longstanding members of the BLP will serve as senior ministers. According to Franklyn, “There is no such thing as a senior minister.”. He said, in Barbados’ system of governance, a senior minister is considered an honorary position.
“Owen Arthur did it when we took down Billie Miller and then didn’t want to drop Billie’s pay so he made her senior minister and then gave her the same pay as deputy prime minister. This will mean now that all of those senior ministers now will get $1700 more a month on their salaries.
“So this is a salary increase through the back door when nurses are not getting their salary increases and the other public servants are not getting their salary increases. She is finding a way to give ministers by calling them senior ministers and tricking people. It is a way to get their hand in the treasury again. You cut down the number of ministers, but then you raise their pay on the sly so now you carry back up the wage bill again. Who do they think they are fooling?” he said.
The outspoken trade unionist also indicated that while Prime Minister Mottley has cut the size of her Cabinet compared to what was obtained in the 2018 Government, he believes there are still too many ministers.
“Ministers don’t really do work. It is the permanent secretaries that do the work. What they should do is to go and look for jobs and come to the Parliament on Tuesdays. But no, they want to give all of them a job to do nothing. They are still wasting the public’s money,” he said.
As it relates to Prime Minister Mottley offering two seats in the Senate to the opposition parties, Franklyn said the leader would be required to make changes to the Constitution to facilitate such a move.