Cannonier: shuffle ‘just musical chairs’
Taxpayers will be on the hook for a bigger salary bill following today's Cabinet shake-up, the leader of the Opposition said last night.
Craig Cannonier criticised a claim made by David Burt, the Premier, that the reshuffle would reduce the number of ministries from 11 to ten.
He said: “The Premier said it was to cut back in the number of ministries — but he took out Michael Weeks and added Curtis Dickinson and Zane DeSilva, which means that he is actually paying more in ministerial salaries.”
Zane DeSilva returned to Cabinet today as Minister of Tourism and Transport and Curtis Dickinson will take over the finance portfolio, which was held by Mr Burt.
Michael Weeks, who was Minister for Social Development and Sport, will return to the back benches as his ministry was abolished.
His sport responsibilities will be taken over by Lovitta Foggo, former government reform minister, who will become Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport — a new ministry.
Mr DeSilva takes over tourism from Jamahl Simmons, who becomes Minister without Portfolio, as well as the transport brief from Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier.
Walton Brown, who was Minister of Home Affairs, was replaced by Mr Roban.
Home Affairs will gain the Department of Energy and lose immigration, which will move to the Ministry of National Security under Wayne Caines.
Mr Brown will be Minister for the Cabinet Office.
Financial Assistance, which was part of Michael Weeks's social development and sport ministry, will be taken over by Kim Wilson, the health minister.
Responsibility for information technology policy will be shifted to the Premier.
Mr Cannonier described the changes as a “fundamental shake-up” and questioned how the new Cabinet would address “the issue of a declining economy, and a lack of new jobs and increased burdens placed on Mr and Mrs Bermuda”.
He added: “Unless they do, this exercise is just a game of musical chairs.”
Mr Cannonier also questioned one of the appointments.
He asked: “Why has Mr DeSilva, who resigned from Cabinet in a row over his friend Ewart Brown who has since been compensated to the tune of $1.2 million, been brought back?
“I take note that he will be in charge of gaming.
“The Premier has 24 other MPs to choose from, but he picks someone who quit Cabinet just ten months ago.”
Mr Cannonier praised the Premier's decision to hand over responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to Mr Dickinson.
He said: “Combining the two is too big a job for one person and can lead to opportunities being lost, mistakes and delays.
“Hopefully, Mr Dickinson will be able to concentrate on balancing the Budget, which the PLP has promised, but failed, to do.
Mr Cannonier added: “In addition, I hope the minister who now has responsibility for immigration will finally publish a report on immigration reform, which is taking too long to happen.
“It is a critical issue that has been highlighted by businesses recently.
“There is a general consensus that our population needs to grow and that the immigration process is too slow.”
The Opposition leader added that the Cabinet shake-up appeared to show “some very significant demotions”.