The fact that Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, chose to be absent from what may have been the last, and probably the most important meeting of the Corporation of St George’s, is a true indication of how the PLP really feels about Mr & Mrs Bermuda, and in particular, the people of St George.
Compounding the Minister’s conspicuous absence, was the fact that Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, was not able to provide any specific details as to what Government’s plans would be for the town if the corporations were either converted to quangos or subsumed into Government.
MP Renee Ming, MP Derrick Burgess and MP Kim Swan were the only PLP members sitting in the proverbial ‘Lion’s Den’. However, Minister Roban’s noticeable absence, together with the lack of information or a clear plan (which seems to be the PLP modus operandi), was clearly a source of angst and frustration for the meeting attendees, where, oddly enough, the above named MPs sat silent throughout.
Although the Government is promoting two options in respect of both Corporations in its consultation document www.forum.gov.bm – either quango or subsuming – the fact of the matter is that in reality there is only one option and that is the Corporations being subsumed into Government.
Why do I say this? Because the Municipalities Amendment Act 1923 was amended in 2018 to give:
- give the Minister extensive powers which provide complete oversight of the Corporations in order to give them general and specific directions
- allow the Minister to delegate functions to a public officer and
- allow the MInister to have oversight of the good governance of the Corporations
In essence, the Corporations are essentially being operated as quangos now.
It is curious that a survey hand-out distributed at the meeting last night included the option of leaving the Corporations as they currently stand; however, this third option is not included as a choice on the online survey.
The sentiment of the overwhelming majority in the room last night was for the Government to leave the Corporations as they are.
The real question is not why is the Government attempting to fix something that isn’t broken. The real question is in light of the Government’s inability to create a third pillar of our economy via Fintech, Bermuda’s growing debt and contracting economy, what is the Government’s underlying motive for bringing this change now.