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OWEN’S TAKE


by Wade Gibbons

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THE POSSIBLE ABUSE of Prime Ministerial powers could be at the centre of Dr David Estwick’s apparent disgruntlement over being shifted from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, says former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
Arthur told the DAILY NATION yesterday that while the Constitution of Barbados gave Prime Minister David Thompson or any leader of Government the authority to make Cabinet appointments as deemed fit, a Prime Minister had no absolute power to make such appointments “without the individual’s knowledge or approval”.
Arthur stated that Estwick’s initial reaction suggested that he either had no knowledge that he was to be moved or that he did not approve the shift of responsibilities.
Noting that the situation raised some serious questions, Arthur said that as Prime Minister when he reshuffled his Cabinet, he gave his colleagues advanced notice and they either accepted or rejected his offer from the outset.An honour to serve
“Was Estwick notified before the announcement and did he say ‘yes’?” Arthur queried, adding it should always be seen as an honour to serve in Cabinet.
Arthur said Government and governance was about collective responsibility and suggested that constantly moving a minister from portfolio to portfolio sent the wrong message to the public.
He explained that once a minister was in Cabinet, he or she affected the decisions made by the collective body.
“As Minister of Tourism or of Health, one can affect the decisions made in agriculture or sport and vice versa.
“Cabinet is about collective decisions,” he noted, suggesting that if one was dissatisfied with an individual’s performance, the person should perhaps be removed from Cabinet altogether.
Following last Thursday night’s announcement that he was to be removed from the helm of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Estwick called a Press briefing the same night which he subsequently postponed until the following day.
That briefing was also postponed and subsequently cancelled.
Estwick later issued a statement indicating that “I accept the position given to me at this time of Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business”.
Arthur, who served as Prime Minister from 1994 till 2008, said that Thompson’s third reshuffle in less than three years gave the feeling that his Government “still has not settled”.

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