When announcing the recent Cabinet changes the Premier lauded the fact that he had consolidated ministries from 11 to 10. He made no mention that with his second cabinet shuffle in 16 months the size of Cabinet has actually grown.
With the growth of Cabinet there are now two Ministers, one titled a “Minister without Portfolio” and another a “Minister in the Cabinet Office”, both make $150k per year and have little or no specific responsibility that could not be taken by another Minister.
The Premier has provided little justification for a Minister Without Portfolio and a Minister within the Cabinet Office to support a Premier, who now does not have the finance portfolio.
However, the current Premier, as Acting Opposition Leader, stated in May 2016 that “Bermudians want leadership that is accountable and transparent, follows the rules and puts the interests of Bermudians first.”
My how things have changed when the shoe is in the other foot!
Both of these Ministers have been moved from important Ministries and one can assume it is not because they were doing a good job!
If Premier Burt wishes to practice what he preaches then a lot more accountability and transparency is owed to the Bermudians whom he alleges he puts first.
Why were two Ministers moved from a substantive Ministry to costly window dressing?
Why did the Premier believe it appropriate to create these two Ministerial positions?
What will they do to provide a return on the taxpayer expense at a time when many Bermudians are struggling to find employment at a livable wage?
Is it because Ministers take a lot of time off or that there is a lot of sick leave under the PLP that needs to be covered?
Many concerned Bermudians have asked these and other questions.
One asked if it was because the Premier wants to reward their loyalty at taxpayer expense.
Another asked if it could be because the workload is so strenuous and other Ministers can’t cope so they need help.
And another remarked that the former Minister of Tourism and Economic Development could not be removed from Cabinet as then a certain talk show, the one constantly supporting the PLP, would then turn to being a vocal critic of the Premier.
I wonder how the backbench feel. Many have supported the Premier while being paid a third of the salary paid a Minister and also serving on parliamentary committees without compensation.
The Premier has in the past often used the two words transparency and accountability, but in reality he has failed to practice what he has preached. I can provide numerous examples like the taxpayer backed $1.2 million payout to a former Premier with little public explanation or answering relevant questions asked from many concerned people.
Sadly the trend now appears standard practice.
Whatever reasons the Premier might have for these two Ministerial appointments, until he practices the transparency and accountability he often talked about in Opposition, these two Ministers appear to have received an early Christmas present paid for by beleaguered taxpayers.
Hon. Michael H. Dunkley JP, MP.
Former Premier of Bermuda and MP for Smith’s North