Ministerial revolving door is damaging economy – OBA
The turnover of ministers in key government departments and lack of senior civil servants in permanent positions, is damaging Bermuda’s economy, the Opposition has warned.
Jarion Richardson, the One Bermuda Alliance deputy leader, has called on the Government to get a grip on the situation.
Mr Richardson expressed concern at the high turnover of ministers at highly influential departments such as tourism and national security and insisted there needed to be less “volatility”.
He said four ministers of tourism in five years was too much.
Mr Richardson told The Royal Gazette: “The volatility in the government, including top jobs in the Civil Service, cascades into the rest of Bermuda and clearly makes our community and economy less sustainable.
“The role of the Minister of Tourism, the role of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, as well as permanent secretary jobs in relevant departments, are all crucial to the recovery of tourism and our economy.”
Mr Richardson also expressed doubts about the performance of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
He said: “I think the BTA is the most obvious example of the volatility in government at the moment. I think the BTA is in the news too often for all the wrong reasons.”
The BTA has been in the headlines in recent months over a high number of personnel changes at the top of the organisation.
In its latest brush with publicity, the BTA refused to share the job advertisement for its vacant chief executive position – or say how many internal applicants had applied for the six-figure salary post.
The taxpayer-funded quango said last month it would fill its most senior executive role internally, suggesting that interim CEO Tracy Berkeley could be in line for the top job.
Curtis Dickinson quit as finance minister only days before the Budget in February and David Burt took over the role for a second time.
After holding three Cabinet posts for a time, Mr Burt relinquished the tourism portfolio, giving the brief to Vance Campbell – the fourth man in five years to take on the responsibility.
Renée Ming left the Cabinet in March and was replaced as national security minister by Michael Weeks. He was the third national security minister since 2017.
In the wake of Mr Burt’s re-election as PLP leader last month, Lawrence Scott was replaced as transport minister by Wayne Furbert, and Owen Darrell took over from Ernest Peets as Minister for Youth, Culture and Sport, and also Government Leader in the Senate.
But two sources queried whether the scope and criteria for the role had changed since the BTA advertised the position in early 2021, because Ms Berkeley did not appear to meet a list of job requirements issued.
There have been four tourism ministers in the past five years since the Progressive Labour Party returned to power.
The post has been held by Jamahl Simmons, Zane DeSilva, David Burt and Vance Campbell.
A number of government departments have acting permanent secretaries – the chief civil servants who advise ministers – rather than fixed appointees.
There has been also turnover of top posts at other departments.
Acting Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance: Cheryl Lister
Permanent Secretary Ministry of National Security: Christopher Farrow
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs: Rozy Azhar
Permanent Secretary, Ministry for the Cabinet Office: Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Works: Randy Rochester
Chief Strategy Officer, Ministry of Health: Aideen Ratteray-Pryse
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform: Gina Hurst-Maybury.
Chief Domestic Financial Affairs Officer, Ministry of Finance: Jennifer Attride-Stirling, PhD
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development and Seniors: Valerie Robinson-James
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport: Marva-Jean O’Brien
Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education: Jasmin Smith
Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economy and Labour: Pandora Glasford
Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport: Shivon Washington-Jones
Referring to his sacking of Lawrence Scott as transport minister last week, Mr Burt said: “Sometimes you have to rotate the team and that is the way that we look at it.”
Bermuda has seen three national security ministers in the past five years, while the island has experienced a dramatic rise in gun murders, often related to organised crime.
The Government was contacted for comment on the issue but there was no reply at press time.